CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (WCIA) — The Champaign-Urbana Public Health District (CUPHD) said 48% of homes tested in Champaign County have high radon levels, and they are encouraging people to learn more about the threat of radon and test for it in their homes, schools, and workplaces.

While radon is a naturally occurring radioactive gas released into the air from decaying matter in rocks, soil, and water, CUPHD said radon can accumulate to dangerous levels inside buildings. Because radon cannot be seen, smelled, or tasted, it is considered an invisible threat. The only way to detect it is to perform a radon test.

The CUPHD has safe and easy-to-use home radon test kits available for $7 that can be picked up at Environmental Health Division on Kenyon Rd. in Champaign Monday-Friday between 8:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m. They said a free t-shirt is also available with purchase until supplies run out.

The CDC said exposure to indoor radon is the leading cause of lung cancer among non-smokers and the second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States. Radon gas causes more than 20,000 lung cancer deaths in the United States each year, according to the CDC.

The Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA) has a school screening program available to help schools with the cost of performing radon testing. The Illinois School Code allows district employees to complete an IEMA-approved online training course in order to perform radon screening, which eliminates the cost of hiring a licensed radon measurement contractor.

The IEMA and the American Lung Association host the annual statewide Illinois Radon Poster Contest and Illinois Radon Video Contest. Students from Mahomet-Seymour High School won an honorable mention for their video last year.