New Jersey's Health Department is focusing the spotlight on a silent killer that may be lurking right in your home without your knowledge: radon.

The month of January has been designated as "Radon Action Month" in New Jersey as part of an effort to urge residents to have their dwellings tested for this odorless, colorless, tasteless radioactive gas that seeps through foundation cracks.

Radon is the second-leading cause of lung cancer, after smoking. And among non-smokers, radon is the leading cause of lung cancer. The risk of developing lung cancer is highest among smokers who are also exposed to radon.

Dr. Kate McGreevy, is program manager of the Environmental and Occupational Health Surveillance Program with the state Department of Health, says "there is no way of knowing whether you have high radon levels in your home unless you test for it." She says testing for Radon, "is actually very simple and inexpensive."

Homeowners have several options:

  •  The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection has a list of certified companies that can provide Radon testing services.
  •  Residents can purchase do-it-yourself kits from hardware stores and run the kit themselves.
  •  You also can order kits from certified companies through the mail.

"If you have elevated radon levels, companies can install a mitigation system," McGreevy says.

One in 6 New Jersey homes have elevated radon levels. But only 3 in 10 have been tested.

Joe Cutter is the afternoon news anchor on New Jersey 101.5