NORTH DAKOTA (KXNET) — Keeping the air in your home clean and safe to breathe is a necessity, but living away from cities in rural areas is not enough.

Some air quality issues are invisible and a major problem, even here in North Dakota. And without knowing, the air you breathe in your home could contain dangerous levels of radon.

Radon is a colorless, odorless, radioactive gas. It is created during the natural breakdown of uranium within the soil and rock.

“In North Dakota, we have a lot of uranium in our soil and we don’t know it’s there,” said the State Radon Coordinator, Justin Otto.

That is why our state ranks so high compared to the other states, as it relates to the exposure and harm of radon.

If not monitored, it could pose several problems for families.

“Radon, the only thing that it’s known to cause at this time is lung cancer. It’s the number two cause of lung cancer. If you’re a non-smoker, it’s the number one cause of lung cancer,” said Otto.

So what is mitigation? How can we limit our exposure and how does it work?

“When a contractor is talking about mitigating a home it’s basically installing a system that, in Layman’s terms, ends up pulling air from underneath your house and exhausting that into the outside. You’re pretty much creating a negative air pressure for underneath the house and that’s what gets rid of the radon,” said the owner of Dakota Radon Service, Ryan Lindburg.

A common misconception about mitigating radon is that it’s very expensive. Experts say it does cost a bit, but compared to the damage radon can cause, they say it’s worth it.

Radon mitigation typically costs between $700 and $1,200, but the cost can reach as much as $3,000 for a large home or property with multiple foundations, according to HomeAdvisor.

Otto tells us there is another revolving myth associated with radon as well.

“People think if their home doesn’t have a basement that they’re not going to have radon,” he said.

Otto says anywhere your home touches the soil — you are at risk of radon exposure. And we’re not just talking about residential homes either.

The state even tests around 25 to 30 schools a year for radon, using about 200 kits per school.

Radon is not a deal breaker in a home, work building, or school, but it is best to test and mitigate to save yourself and your loved ones.

January is National Radon Action Month, and the Department of Environmental Quality gives out around 700 free test kits.

Testing should be done at least every two to three years even with mitigation systems in place.