PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN 6) — State health officials are urging all Oregon residents to test their homes for radon based on new data.

The Oregon Radon Program published the data on healthoregon.org Tuesday. Oregon’s areas of highest radon risk are in Scappoose, Banks and North Plains, as well Boring, Parkdale, Dundee, Turner and La Grande.

Much of Portland was also found to be at high risk, specifically the north, northeastern and southeastern parts of the city.

“The take-home message is that every home needs to be tested, regardless of where it is located,” says Brett Sherry, Radon Program coordinator at the Oregon Health Authority Public Health Division. “You may have the only house on the block with elevated radon levels.”

Radon, an odorless, tasteless and invisible radioactive gas, is the second-leading cause of lung cancer in the US after cigarette smoking. The US EPA estimates it’s responsible for more than 20,000 lung cancer deaths each year in the country.

Several pockets of high-risk areas populate around the Willamette Valley, and in eastern and southern Oregon. (oregon.gov)
Several pockets of high-risk areas populate around the Willamette Valley, and in eastern and southern Oregon. (oregon.gov)

The gas often rises up from the ground and stores inside buildings, where it can build to dangerous levels.

“Radon has been detected in homes all across Oregon. The only way to know if your home has high radon levels is to test,” Sherry says.

MORE: Radon risk by county

Residents can perform their own tests and can purchase test kits ranging from $15 to $25 at local hardware stores. January, which is National Radon Action Month, is a great time for testing as windows and doors have been closed tightly for much of the winter.

Dick and Molly Frey tested their Woodstock neighborhood home for radon, Jan. 6, 2015 (KOIN 6 News)
Dick and Molly Frey tested their Woodstock neighborhood home for radon, Jan. 6, 2015 (KOIN 6 News)

Dick and Molly Frey decided to test their home in Portland’s Woodstock neighborhood for radon, and they’re glad they did.

“Evidently there’s a lot of trouble in this particular ZIP Code, so we decided it’s better to be safe than sorry,” she said.

They used a home kit bought at a hardware store, followed the direction  and sent the kit off to a lab for testing.

The results, confirmed by professionals with Cascade Radon, showed high levels of radon in the home.

The problem is fixable, and will typically cost between $1600 and $2500.

But that’s a fix that brought the Freys some peace of mind.

On the Health Oregon website, homeowners are able to see what radon levels have been detected in their neighborhood. For those living in zip codes with fewer than 20 test results, the Radon Program is offering a free test kit to residents. Residents of those zip codes can send an email to [email protected] for instructions.

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