Hickory – In honor of National Radon Action Month, Catawba County Public Health is partnering with the North Carolina Radon Program to provide free short-term radon test kits to Catawba County residents during the month of January. Free kits are available at Catawba County Public Health, 3070 11th Ave. Dr. SE, Hickory, NC 28602 while supplies last.

Kits must be used according to package directions and should be returned by mail for analysis. Results will then be sent to residents. Radon is the odorless, colorless gas that is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States. Exposure to radon in the home is responsible for an estimated 20,000 lung cancer deaths each year, according to the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services.

Radon gas occurs naturally from the breakdown of uranium in rocks and soil. Radon gas can seep through the cracks in buildings, and high levels can lead to severe health problems, the state says.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has set 4 pCi/L as the level where homeowners should take action to reduce exposure to radon gas in the home. At least one home in Catawba County has tested as high as 39 pCi/L, nearly 10 times the EPA cutoff. The EPA estimates that a reduction of radon levels to below 2 pCi/L nationwide would likely reduce the yearly lung cancer deaths attributed to radon by half.

The North Carolina Radon Program of the North Carolina 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.

For more information about radon and radon testing, including potential financial assistance with radon mitigation, visit the North Carolina Radon Program website at www.ncradon.org.  Catawba County Public Health promotes and protects the health of all Catawba County residents through preventive services, innovative partnerships, and community health improvement initiatives. For more information, please call (828) 695-5800 or visit www.catawbacountync.gov/phealth.