LUBBOCK, Texas- More data is needed on radon emissions in homes located in the Panhandle, said Texas Tech’s Department of Civil, Environmental, and Construction Engineering on Tuesday.

With the data that’s available, 1 in 10 households in and around the Hub City have elevated levels of radon, which is a colorless, odorless, radioactive gas that can be dangerous with extended periods of exposure.

However, these numbers are based on a small portion of the region and could be more accurate with the community’s participation in testing. Texas Tech said it hopes to spread awareness so that more people will test their homes.

Radon exposure is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States, according to TTU. It develops when Uranium breaks down in soil and rock.

TTU also said radon enters homes by “migrating through permeable rocks and soils and eventually seeping into buildings or releasing into the atmosphere.”

Radon tends to accumulate in lower areas of the home, like basements.

In 1993, the Environmental Protection Agency and the United States Geological Survey released a report that said there is an increased likelihood of radon in homes located in the region and that more testing is needed.

Little had been done since the organizations released the report. So, in 2020, Texas Tech started an initiative to take a closer look at the data that had been collected over the last 20 years.

“What we saw confirmed what the EPA had seen in 1993: [the] overall likelihood of elevated radon in homes is low throughout the state, but is likely to be elevated in the Panhandle,” said Kayleigh Millerick, Ph.D., with Texas Tech’s Department of Civil, Environmental, and Construction Engineering. “Just because the geology of this area leads to the higher likelihood of radon emissions in homes.”

She said older parts of town, including the northern and eastern sides of Lubbock, are especially lacking in data.

“I think [it] would be both beneficial to the homeowner and allow me to better gauge [the problem],” Dr. Millerick explained.

The testing process is simple and free to anyone interested. TTU said it mails out test kits every week to anyone who expresses interest. You can find more information here.

For questions, you can email Dr. Millerick at kayleigh.millerick@ttu.edu.