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County, state providing free radon testing kits in January

As the turning of the seasons brings colder weather to North Carolina and families close windows to keep warm, it is an excellent time to make plans for radon testing in your home.

Radon is the odorless, colorless gas that is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States. The effects upon the families it touches can be just as devastating as lung cancer caused by smoking tobacco.

January is National Radon Action Month. Each year upwards to 22,000 people die from radon-induced lung cancer. Roughly 54 percent of those diagnosed with early stage lung cancer are expected to live no more than five years after diagnosis.

The Rowan County Health Department is partnering with the N.C. Radon Program to provide free short-term radon test kits in recognition of National Radon Action Month. A limited supply of radon test kits are being made available locally on Jan. 5, 8 and 13 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Environment Health, located at 402 N. Main St. Approximately 7,000 kits are being distributed statewide. Only one kit per home is needed to determine if your home has a high level.

The N.C. Radon Program website, www.ncradon.org, has a list of all 83 participating organizations across North Carolina. Once the supply of free kits has been exhausted, the N.C. Radon Program will provide short-term radon test kits at a reduced cost of $5.34. The kits retail for $15 apiece. To purchase a kit at a reduced price, visit www.ncradon.org.

The N.C. Radon Program of the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services educates families and homeowners about radon gas, how to test for radon gas and how to lower the radon levels within a home. Lowering the radon levels in a home lowers the risk of lung cancer.

The N.C. Radon Program website also contains a new mobile application. Meant to particularly help real estate brokers working in North Carolina, the mobile application will assist the user in determining how many tests have been conducted within a zip code as well as the highest radon level recorded in that zip code. The user of the application will also be able to locate a certified professional to assist in testing or fixing the radon issue in a home.

The cost of lowering radon levels in a home averages to about $1,500. The N.C. Radon Protection Section sought help for families that might struggle to meet that expense. The Self Help Credit Union created a loan program specifically for radon mitigation. North Carolina homeowners who meet federal poverty criteria may be eligible for forgivable loans from local programs. A link to more information is available on the N.C. Radon Program web page.

For more information visit www.ncradon.org or call Rowan County Environmental Health at 704-216-8625.

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