When it comes to reducing cancer risk, individuals often change their diets and make appointments for routine health screenings. However, people often overlook the importance of getting their home tested for radon.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency reports that radon accounts for roughly 21,000 deaths from lung cancer yearly. Radon is also the leading cause of lung cancer in people who don’t smoke, according to the American Cancer Society.

Although radon is a natural substance produced from rocks and dirt in the ground, it is not safe. While it is always present in the air in low concentrations, heavy concentrations are dangerous. This can occur when too much radon gas from underneath a home leaks into a residence and builds up inside. The higher the radon levels and the longer the exposure, the greater the risk for illness.

Radon is odorless, colorless, and impossible to detect without a radon test kit. Test kits are available from hardware stores and the National Radon Program Services at http://sosradon.org/test-kits. It can take a few days or months to complete the test and wait for the testing laboratory results. If results show a radon level of 4 picocuries per liter (pCiL) or higher, a second test is recommended. If that test is also high, your home will likely require remediation. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) notes that it is important for people who use well water to conduct a radon test, as well water can sometimes carry radon into the house.

Radon is a problem that can affect newer and older homes alike. Simple testing can determine if radon needs to be addressed or if a home is safe. It’s a routine safety measure homeowners should not overlook.