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Radon Could Be Seeping Into Your Home

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RALEIGH, N.C. — You cannot see it or smell it, but a deadly gas could be lurking in your home -- radon.

Susan Pope, a North Carolina extension agent, travels across the state

educating homeowners about radon

. The gas is particularly a problem in the western part of the state, but radon is everywhere.

"It doesn't cause you to have watery eyes or a stuffy nose or cough. It causes lung cancer," Pope said.

Radon enters homes through foundation cracks, ductwork and other floor systems. The cracks create a vacuum, sucking cool air and, possibly, radon into your home.

Even if the county you live in is considered low-risk, it could be in the soil around your home. Two homes side-by-side could have very different radon levels.

Home tests cost less than $25. When testing for radon, choose the lowest lived-in level of your home.

Since radon is a gas, it rises. Taking the test upstairs may not give you an accurate count of the amount of radon that is really in your home.

Pick a room that you use regularly, avoiding kitchens or bathrooms as humidity can affect the accuracy of the test. Simply place the test can in the appropriate room and leave it for several days. You then seal it up and send it back to the company, which will send you the results.

If you are building a new home, builders can install a radon mitigation system, which sucks up the trapped air and deposits it outside your home. Those systems cost between $500 and $800.