During the month of January - National Radon Action Month - the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services is emphasizing the importance of having a home safe from radon. The N.C. Radon Program, administered by the Department of Health and Human Services, is distributing free radon test kits while they last.
Radon is the leading cause of lung cancer in the U.S. among non-smokers. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates that radon is responsible for more than 21,000 lung cancer deaths per year in the United States. This is more than the number of deaths associated with DUI accidents.
Radon is a naturally occurring radioactive gas that is invisible, odorless, and tasteless. Radon is released harmlessly from the ground into outdoor air, but it can accumulate and reach harmful levels when trapped in homes and buildings.
Because radon is found in granite type rocks, many counties in mountainous regions of western North Carolina have been designated by the EPA as “Zone 1” counties. This means the average home will test higher than four picocuries per liter (pCi/L), the level at which the EPA recommends fixing your home. Houses in the same neighborhood can have very different levels, so every home should be tested.
There are three ways that you may receive a free test kit:
• visit the N.C. Radon website at www.ncradon.org to order a free test kit;
• visit any of the following 20 County Agriculture Extension Offices that have a supply of free kits to distribute while supplies last in these counties - Alleghany, Ashe, Avery, Burke, Cherokee, Durham, Hoke, Franklin, Graham, Henderson, Johnston, Lincoln, Macon, Madison, McDowell, Person, Stokes, Transylvania, Watauga and Yadkin.
For more information, call the Ashe County N.C. Cooperative Extension office at 336-846-5850.