Residents in eastern Tennessee have been warned about dangerous radon levels in their homes.
Concentrations of radon in the region are higher than average level, according to the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation.
Radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer behind smoking, according to a report, and people in eastern Tennessee are most at risk because of elevated radon levels.
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"It doesn't have any taste or smell," said Lexi Brown, the TDEC's radon expert.
"There's no way that you can detect it with any of your bodily senses."
Free radon test kits are provided by the state, and officials in Tennessee recommend citizens test their homes every few years, the report noted.
Roughly 1 in 4 homes tested will yield a result of over 4 picocuries per liter, and 26% will test above that.
Someone living in a home with a radon level of 40 is the same as someone who smokes four packs of cigarettes daily, officials said.
Radon is "always at the forefront" when doctors see a lung cancer patient who does not smoke, according to Dr. Ben Bevill of the University of Tennessee Medical Center.
"It's not guaranteed that you're going to get lung cancer if you have high levels of radon, but it certainly can increase your risk," Bevill said.
Radon could become the state's next "silent killer," according to Dr. Eric Penniman with the Summit Medical Group.
Smoking can magnify the effects of radon, and it is crucial that people test their homes, according to Penniman.
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"As we know, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure," he added.