Tuesday, April 20 2010 11:21 PM EDT2010-04-21 03:21:00 GMT
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Before the month ends, officials with the Department of Health and Environmental Control are urging South Carolina residents to check their homes for a silent killer.
DHEC officials say because you can't see, smell or taste radon gas, unless you test for it, you may be exposing yourself to dangerous levels of the harmful gas.
"It affects everyone the same," said Jim Beasley, a spokesman for DHEC. "It has the ability to actually cause lung cancer and it causes about 20,000 or so lung cancer deaths every year in the United States."
Beasley says while some parts of South Carolina are at a greater risk for exposure to radon, high levels can be everywhere and vary home to home. "There is uranium that is decaying all the time in South Carolina and some of that gas begins to creep up through the soil, so it enters the air and it also creeps into people's foundations and basements and just lower levels of homes," said Beasley.
Officials say one in 15 homes have elevated levels of the cancer causing gas and that's why they believe it's so important for residents to request a free radon gas test kit through their office.
"You open it up, and it would be placed out in your home somewhere between three and seven days and that's merely an air filter that's going to be picking up particles out of your home," said Beasley.
Once you have collected your radon gas sample, DHEC officials say it's important to send the kit and the completed information form back to your office. DHEC officials will then contact you with the results.
Officials say if your test shows elevated levels of radon in your home there are experts who can remove the high levels of gas. While those services are not free, health officials say it could keep you or your family from becoming a statistic.
For more information on how to request a kit visit www.scdhec.gov/radon or call the SC Toll Free Radon Hotline at 1-800-768-0362.