The New Mexico Department of Health and the New Mexico Environment Department are encouraging New Mexicans, especially smokers and former smokers, to test their homes for radon, an odorless and invisible gas. Radon testing is easiest and most effective in cooler weather months when houses tend to be closed up for warmth.
“Since we can’t see or smell radon, people tend to downplay exposure and ignore the possibility that there might be a silent killer in their homes,” said Department of Health Cabinet Secretary Retta Ward, MPH.
Breathing in radon can increase the risk of lung cancer. This risk for lung cancer increases when a person is exposed to radon and also smokes. This is why it’s especially important for current and former smokers to test their homes for radon.
Radon can build up to dangerous levels inside new and old homes. The only way to know if the gas is seeping into your home is by testing for it. Testing is easy, inexpensive, and only takes a few minutes. Radon test kits can be purchased at local hardware and home improvement stores and are typically priced under $25. However, New Mexico residents can take advantage of a discount offered through the state Environment Department, which offers test kits for only $7.95.
The New Mexico Department of Health ‘s Environmental Public Health Tracking program provides downloadable resources about radon and information on how you can order a low-cost kit on its website, nmtracking.org. If your test shows evidence of radon gas at levels of health concern in your home, call the Environment Department at (505) 476-8608 to get information about ways you can reduce radon gas in your home and minimize your exposure.
Radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the U.S. after smoking and the leading cause of lung cancer among nonsmokers. Radon problems can be fixed by qualified contractors for a cost similar to that of many common home repairs such as painting or having a new water heater installed. If you smoke and want to quit you can learn about cessation options by calling 1-800-QUIT NOW or for Spanish 1-855-DEJELO-YA.