AMARILLO, TX (KFDA) - Since Radon levels are increasing in our area, the EPA is urging residents to test their homes.
The EPA found that one in five homes have high levels of Radon. Radon is a colorless and odorless gas that can enter your home. Doyle Price, President of Radon Technology, said that it can seep into a home through cracks and windows by the "chimney effect."
"The house is warmer than the ground outside," Price said. "Warm air rises as it rises it pulls in soil gases from under the house. The soil gasses will penetrate the foundation usually through cracks or openings for plumbing and it will pull the gases inside the house."
Gas can build up over time and reach unsafe levels, especially during the winter when doors and windows are often closed.
Jeanie Jaramillo, Managing Director of the Texas Panhandle Poison Center, said excessive radon exposure can cause cancer.
"Radon is harmful to humans because as it decays it creates radioactive particles, so it's similar to being exposed to radiation and that damages the body's cells which can lead to cancer," Jaramillo said.
Radon is the second leading cause of lung caner, it causes 21,000 deaths in the U.S. every year. However, not all radon levels are cause for concern.
Jaramillo said houses or buildings with readings of 4 picocuries are at high risk.
"If levels exceed 4 picocuries per liter in a house or building that you're breathing in than that's harmful, so we call that the action level," she said. "That's the level at which you should have the home ventilated or repaired."
She said Radon can't be avoid, but the best way to prevent exposure is to test your home. Testing for Radon is cheap and easy. Homeowners can buy tests from any hardware store like Home Depot or Lowe's.
The EPA suggests testing your home every two years.