TOPEKA, (KSNT)- Kansas leaders are urging people to test for radon, a radioactive gas that’s the second-leading cause for lung cancer in the U.S.

Governor Laura Kelly proclaimed January as Radon Action month in Kansas. Through a partnership with the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE), Kansans are urged to protect their families by testing their homes, schools and work sites for radon to minimize long-term health risks.  

“Radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the U.S. and the first in people who have never smoked,” said Jason Meinholdt, director, Radiation Control Program. “The only way to know if you have elevated levels of radon in your home is to test. Test. Fix. Save a life.”

Radon is a naturally occurring radioactive gas that can emanate from soil and become a health hazard when concentrated inside a home, school, business or other structure. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, it is estimated that indoor radon contributes to 21,000 lung cancer deaths in the U.S. each year. Exposure causes no immediate symptoms and often goes unrecognized until serious health complications arise.  

More than one in four homes across Kansas have high radon levels. DeSoto, Eudora, Gardner Junction City, Lawrence, Manhattan, Olathe, Salina, and Topeka have building codes that require new homes to be built using radon-resistant techniques. Additionally, more counties in Kansas such as Shawnee County and Douglas County have adopted this modification to their building codes. 

According to KDHE, radon test kits available at local hardware and builders’ supply stores and at your Kansas county extension office, can reveal the amount of radon in any building.

According to the agency, the only way to know if radon has entered your home or building is to test for it. Those with high levels can usually be fixed with simple and affordable venting techniques. Homeowners should talk with a certified radon contractor if high levels are detected.

A list of certified radon contractors is available by calling the Kansas Radon Hotline at (800-693-5343). Additional information about radon can be obtained at kansasradonprogram.org and at epa.gov/radon.