Special to Iredell Free News
RALEIGH — Gov. Roy Cooper has proclaimed January as National Radon Action Month to help educate people about how to reduce their risk of lung cancer from radon. Because testing is the only way to know if your family is at risk, the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services is providing 3,000 free radon test kits, which are available at radon.ncdhhs.gov.
Radon is an odorless, colorless gas and currently the leading cause of lung cancer for non-smokers. It is released from the ground into outdoor air but can accumulate and reach harmful levels when trapped in homes and other buildings. Additionally, the risk factor for lung cancer among current or former smokers of tobacco increases by 10 times if they live in a home with elevated radon.
Information provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicated that 77 of the 100 counties in North Carolina have indoor air levels of radon that are above safety standards. A level four or higher in your home is considered unsafe.
Approximately 450 people die each year in North Carolina from radon-induced lung cancer. Despite the large number of yearly deaths, many people are unaware they need to test for radon in their homes.
Survey data collected through the 2015 and 2019 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System reflects a lack of awareness about radon among historically marginalized communities, particularly among Black and Hispanic communities, people with low income and people who rent their homes.
The governor’s proclamation also acknowledges that elevated indoor radon is a preventable and fixable problem, similar in cost to other home improvements. The N.C. Radon Program recommends hiring a certified radon mitigator to fix elevated radon levels.
Everyone is exposed to some level of radon. The question is not if you are exposed to radon but how high is your level of exposure?
Testing for radon is the only way to know. Visit radon.ncdhhs.gov for more information and to order your free test kit while supplies last.