radon test kit

With homes closed up for winter, January is the ideal month to test for radon, a colorless gas that can be found in any home, old or new.

January is Radon Awareness Month and the Jackson County Cooperative Extension wants everyone to be educated about the risk of radon exposure.

January is the ideal month for testing radon in the home, due to homes being closed up for cold weather, allowing better readings with kits. Radon is a gaseous radioactive element (Rn). It is a colorless gas that is extremely toxic. The Environmental Protection Agency urges people in certain high radon areas to have their homes tested.

Radon is a result of uranium decay in the soil and enters into the home through cracks or holes in the foundation, cavities inside walls or through the water supply. Radon can be in any home, new or old.

Radon is measured in picocuries per liter of air (pCi/L) and homes should measure less than 4 pCi/L. A health risk associated with radon exposure includes lung cancer. Smokers have an increased risk of radon-induced lung cancer.

Jackson County is considered a Zone 2 area, meaning the predicted average indoor radon screening levels are between 2 and 4 pCi/L. According to ncradon.org radon map, the highest reading of radon in a home in Jackson County is 57.4 pCi/L.

Reports from the 32 radon kits that went out last year had readings ranging from less than 0.3 pCi/L up to 10.7 pCi/L. There were 10 readings that were above the 4 pCi/L level.

So what does this mean for residents of Jackson County? 

We urge you to have your home tested for its radon level. If you have already had your home tested it should be retested if you have renovated or altered the home, if you plan to sell your home and the last test was more than two years ago, or if you plan to occupy the space where it has not been occupied previously.

This year the N.C. Radon program will not distribute test kits directly to counties.

Instead, you can order a free test kit directly from the N.C. Radon program (ncradon.org). Clients can also purchase kits from local home improvement stores.

If you are interested in learning more about radon we will be offering two, one-hour educational presentations at the Cooperative Extension office on Jan. 28. The first will be 9-10 a.m., and the second will be 3-4 p.m.

If you have any questions, stop by or call the Cooperative Extension at 586-4009 or visit www.epa.gov.

Emily McClure is family consumer sciences agent, N.C. Cooperative Extension-Jackson County Center.