PORTSMOUTH — Hiding in far too many homes is the second-leading cause of lung cancer, radon. This January, during Radon Action Month, the American Lung Association clears up five common myths around this deadly gas.

“Radon is a naturally occurring gas that hides invisibly in homes, yet is the nation’s second-leading cause of lung cancer. Lung cancer remains the nation’s leading cause of cancer deaths, so to save lives people need to be aware of and take action on radon,” said Lance Boucher, Senior Division Director for State Public Policy for the American Lung Association in New Hampshire. “The good news is that testing for and reducing the high radon levels is straightforward and effective. We encourage all families, schools and day cares to test for radon to protect everyone’s health, and we thank Gov. Sununu for declaring January as Radon Action Month in New Hampshire.”

Myth No. 1: Radon is not really harmful.

Fact: Not only is radon invisible, it’s also radioactive. While you can’t see it, exposure to high levels of radon over time can cause lung cancer, according to the U.S. Surgeon General. In fact, radon ranks as the nation’s second-leading cause of the disease. Radon-related lung cancers are responsible for an estimated 21,000 deaths every year in the United States.

Myth No. 2: Radon is rare and doesn’t impact our community.

Fact: The reality is that radon is found at dangerous levels in an estimated 1 in 15 homes nationwide. Your home can have elevated levels of radon while your neighbor’s home does not. It doesn’t matter in what part of the country you live. Radon comes from rock and soil, so it can be found anywhere. It then enters the home or building through cracks in walls, basement floors, foundation and other openings, and can exist at dangerous levels indoors.

Myth No. 3: Testing for radon is expensive.

Fact: The only way to detect dangerous levels of radon in your home is to test the air. Various do-it-yourself test kits are simple to use and inexpensive. Some places offer free kits. Schools and day cares should use professional help to do the testing.

Myth No. 4: Even if I test, I couldn’t afford to fix the problem.

Fact: Fixing radon problems in most homes costs between $500 and $1,500 — roughly the price of a new television set or computer.

Myth No. 5: Our schools are safe.

Fact: Testing for radon in schools is not required in most states, nor is fixing the problem. Not only children, but teachers and other staff who work in schools can be exposed to dangerous levels of radon. The last nationwide survey of radon levels in schools, completed in 1993, found that nearly one in five schools had at least one classroom with dangerous levels of radon. The American Lung Association leads a coalition of groups working to highlight the importance of testing for radon in both schools and day cares through the National Radon Action Plan.

To learn more about radon and how to test homes, go to Lung.org/radon or call the toll-free Lung HelpLine at 1-800-LUNGUSA.

The American Lung Association is the leading organization working to save lives by improving lung health and preventing lung disease, through research, education and advocacy.

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