Sixth grade students at Lehighton Area Middle School will soon know if their home is filled with radon gas.

Approximately 200 students and their teachers recently received a free radon test kit from Anthony Delonti, representative of the American Lung Association. Delonti said that the ALA receives a grant from the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection each year to provide the kits and pays for testing.

Delonti said that radon gas is the leading cause of lung cancer for non-smokers. Cigarette smoking is responsible for the large majority of lung cancer deaths. He said one out of 15 homes in the United States has high indoor radon levels.

"Radon gas seeps into homes through the cracks in the foundation, from building materials and through your water supply," said Delonti.

He said that radon is colorless, odorless, tasteless and occurs naturally. He also noted that radon is an inert gas because it does not chemically react. Radon is a radioactive gas found in the earth's rock and soil.

Radon is formed by the natural breakdown of radium, which in turn is formed when uranium breaks down.

As radon breaks down or decays, it forms radioactive by-products, which can damage lung tissue and odorless gas that is a health hazard when it reaches high levels inside homes.

"Smoking combined with radon is an especially serious health risk," he said.

Delonti said that the American Lung Association wants homes to be tested.

The test kit provided by the ALA is a short-term test, which can be done during any season. All windows and doors should be kept closed for 12 hours before starting the test and until the end of the testing period. The test takes 72 to 168 hours to complete (three to seven days). The test should be done in the lowest area of the building.

"If your home has high levels of radon, there are ways to reduce it by lowering the radon levels," he said.

He said that sealing cracks in floors and walls may reduce radon, plus there are other systems that may be used to reduce radon, such as soil suction or other inexpensive renovations.

"The test kit is free and so is the testing," he said. "Tell your parents that it's important and that there is no cost for testing."

Anyone who wants more information about having Delonti visit their school should contact the American Lung Association at 1 (800) LUNG-USA.