Radon can pose serious risks — have your home tested

Published 12:00 am Friday, December 28, 2012

SALISBURY — 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. Scientists have long been concerned about the health risks of radon, but never before has there been such overwhelming evidence that exposure to elevated levels of radon causes lung cancer in humans.
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. Radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the U.S. after smoking and the leading cause of lung cancer among non-smokers. Since radon does not have an odor and is invisible, people tend to downplay the health effects and ignore the possibility that there might be a silent killer within the walls of their home.
Some homes in this county have tested high for radon. Houses in the same neighborhood can have very different levels, so every home should be tested. Testing homes for radon is simple and inexpensive. Radon test kits can be purchased at local hardware and home improvement stores, directly from radon testing companies, or is available for free during January from the N.C. Radon Program. Should your home be found to have elevated levels of radon, the problem can be fixed by qualified contractors for a cost similar to that of many other home repairs. In our area, the cost can be from $800 to $2,500 depending on the home.
The N.C. Radon Program urges residents to take action during this year’s National Radon Action Month by testing your home for radon. Radon poses a serious threat to our community’s health, but there is a straightforward solution. For more information on radon and to find out how to receive your free radon test kit, contact your Cooperative Extension office at 704-216-8970 or visit the office at 2727 A Old Concord Road, Salisbury.
The test kits will provide directions on how to conduct the test and where to send them for reading and results. For further information about radon you may also want to visit the N.C. Radon Program’s website at www.ncradon.org. The United States Environmental Protection Agency is another source of information you may visit their website at www.epa.gov/.
Test kits will be available throughout January and may be picked up at the address stated above between the hours of 8 a.m.-5 p.m., Monday-Friday.

Toi N. Degree, Family and Consumer Education Agent, Rowan County Cooperative Extension Service; 704-216-8970 or toi_degree@ncsu.edu.