The Western North Carolina Regional Air Quality Agency (WNCRAQA) is providing free radon test kits to the citizens of Buncombe County during the month of January while supplies last.
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.
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.
Buncombe County has been designated as a Zone 1 County by the US Environmental Protection Agency, which means the average home will test over 4 picocuries per liter (pCi/L), the level at which it is recommended that you fix your home. 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 are available for free during January from the NC 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 $1,000 to $2,500 depending on the home.
The NC Radon Program and the WNCRAQA urge residents to take action during this year's National Radon Action Month by testing their homes for radon. Radon poses a serious threat to our community's health, but there is a straightforward solution. For more information on radon visit the NC Radon Program's website at www.ncradon.org.
If you live in or near Buncombe County and would like to obtain a free radon test kit, stop by the Western North Carolina Regional Air Quality Agency which is located at 49 Mount Carmel Road. Directions and more information are on our website at www.wncairquality.org. The free radon test kits will be distributed as long as supplies last. Office hours are 8:30 am to 5:00 pm, Monday through Friday. Citizens that are not able to come by the office to pick up a kit during regular business hours can submit a request to receive a kit through the mail from the NC Radon program at www.ncradon.org.