DES MOINES, Iowa — It’s a silent killer in many Iowa homes. Radon is a gas that comes from the breakdown of uranium in the soil – an element that is unfortunately abundant in Iowa. It’s the leading cause of lung cancer amongst nonsmokers according to the National Cancer Institute.

“Radon’s a radioactive product so when it enters your home, it’s trapped inside the building. A normal occupant is forced the breath it and once you breath it in, it’s the decay particles that come in with the radon gas that are what’s harmful and your body can’t absorb the particles. They’re not big enough to where you can expel them back out so they kind of damage your lungs and that’s what causes the cancer over long periods of time,” Central Iowa Radon Operations Manager Dan Weber said.

According to the Iowa Department of Public Health, 71.6 percent of Iowa homes have a radon level above the EPA threshold of 4pCi/L.

“Radon does not get the attention it deserves simply because people don’t know it’s in the home but it’s a silent killer,” Weber said.

Despite the alarming facts of radon’s danger and prevalence in Iowa, it’s easy to test for and mitigate.

Testing takes about two days. Homeowners can have a professional come out and conduct the test or use an at-home test kit. At-home kits are available at home improvement stores as the Polk County Public Works Department.

Weber said people should test every two years. The best time to test is during the winter months.

Companies like Central Iowa Radon can install a radon mitigation system to bring levels below the EPA threshold. Houses with those systems should still test every two years according to Weber.

January is National Radon Action Month.