HEPBURN TOWNSHIP -- The Department of Environmental Protection is sending out hundreds of letters alerting homeowners in one part of Lycoming County of radon levels in their area. Radon is a radioactive, odorless, and colorless gas that causes cancer.
"DEP does not necessarily suspect that nearly 1,000 homes in Hepburn Township have high levels. However, DEP believes that all homeowners in the area where some homes had reported radon levels greater than 100 pCi/L should conduct radon tests," said DEP in a statement.
If you live in Hepburn Township, keep your eye out for a letter in the mail from the Department of Environmental Protection. DEP officials tell Newswatch 16 hundreds of letters recommending homeowners to conduct a radon test.
"I don't know much about it but it doesn't sound good," said George Mayer.
DEP's Megan Lehman tells Newswatch 16 certified testers reported high levels in several townships across the state
The DEP is sending a coupon for a free radon test along with the letter so residents can test their homes.
"About 40 percent of homes have levels of concern of radon that have been tested and it's something we think all Pennsylvanians should do for peace of minds for their families," said Lehman.
"We haven't received a letter or what we need to do to test. We haven't heard anything about that yet, but as soon as we hear what to do, we're going to get a test kit and test our house," Mayer said.
The odorless gas can be found all over the country but DEP officials want to test here because they have found high levels of radon in the township.
"The main health effect of radon is an increased risk of lung cancer, so because it's a radioactive gas, there are particles, tiny particles when you breathe it in, adhere to the lining of the lungs and stay there," Lehman explained.
"That's why I'm worried about the children. You know cancer is everywhere and different types of cancer. If we can eliminate one source of cancer, that's a plus," Mayer said.
"Homeowners who provide documentation that their initial radon test showed a level greater than 100 pCi/L can get a free short-term test kit from DEP to confirm the high reading. Homeowners who provide documentation that they’ve installed an active radon mitigation system within the last year can get a free short-term and long-term radon test kit," said DEP in a statement.
At this point, the state does not offer any grant programs to help install radon mitigation systems. The ventilation system can cost around $1,000 to install.