Radon gas is a decay product of radioactive uranium that cannot be seen, smelled, or tasted. Certain soils may contain high levels of radon, and well water that passes through may be a significant source of radon in a home.

Exposure to radon increases your risk of developing lung cancer, especially when exposure is combined with smoking or inhaling someone else’s smoke.

Radon gas gets into homes through cracks in foundations, block walls, sump pumps, drains and other openings in cellar floors and walls. It can also be released into the air by running water from faucets and showers if the source of water is a well with high levels of radon.

The simplest way to find out if your house has high levels of radon is a carbon filter test, which can be done by the homeowner. For more information, visit the American Lung Association Web site lungusa.org. Kits and information are available through the state health department by calling 518-474-2121, or the Radon Hotline operated by the National Safety Council at 1-800-SOS-RADON. You may also buy kits commercially.