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.

I was playing Trivial Pursuit with my family a few weekends ago and one of the questions asked, what part of the body is the “hallux” referring to? I had no idea and neither did the person I was partnered with.

So we made a guess which was wrong so we didn’t get our colored piece that would go into what I call the pie piece. In case you were wondering, hallux, is another name for your big toe. I was not too upset we didn’t get our question right, because I learned something new. I do enjoy learning new things, especially random and odd things.

January is National Radon Month and until you buy a home you might not think too much about the radon levels in your area. So what are some interesting things about radon you might not know?

Radon gas is odorless and invisible.

It is naturally released from rock, soil and water.

All outdoor and indoor air has some radon in it, but we want to aim to have the lowest level possible.

Radon comes into your home through cracks in walls or solid floors, construction joints, sump pump and gaps around service pipes.

Radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer after cigarette smoking.

The only way to know if you have unsafe levels of radon in your home or office is by testing.

You should test the radon levels of your home if you have done any of the following; recently bought or planning to sell it, have never tested levels in the past, before and after any renovations, or if living arrangements have changed and someone is spending more time in the basement or lower level of the home (like making the basement into a bedroom). Levels should be below 4 pCi/L and 21 percent of tests in Jackson County came back above that limit while 55 percent were below the recommended 2 pCi/L.

In previous years we have been able to give out free radon testing kits, but this year we have not received any. You can visit ncradon.org to see if they have any free kits available or visit your local hardware store to purchase one. Prices for DIY short term kits start around $10 and increase up into the hundreds depending on the test you get.

If you want to learn more about what radon is, health concerns, or how to test the levels of your home, visit CDC.gov or ncradon.org. You can also call Emily McClure, FCS agent, at 586-4009 or email at ekmcclure@ncat.edu.

Be sure to visit Eventbrite.com and search “Jackson County Cooperative Extension” to learn of upcoming programs the Extension will be offering, such as, LIFT and Med instead of Meds.

Emily McClure is a registered dietitian, Family and Consumer Sciences agent, Jackson County Extension.