The Guilford County Department of Health and Human Services (GC DHHS), Public Health Division has a limited amount of radon testing kits to be distributed throughout our community. Radon is a naturally occurring radioactive gas emitted from the decay of uranium that is in soil, rock and water. As the radon gas seeps through the soil, it can become trapped in the air of buildings. Due to the geology found in North Carolina, elevated indoor radon levels, especially in the piedmont and mountain regions of the state, have been found. Based on a state survey, 6.7 percent or one out of 15 homes have radon levels exceeding the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) action level of four pCi/L (picocuries per liter of air, a standard measurement for radon).

Radon can cause cancer (it is a carcinogen) and is the second leading cause of lung cancer. The radon radioactive particles can become trapped in your lungs when you breathe it in. As these particles break down, they give off alpha particles, which are radioactive and can cause damage to the tissue in your lungs. This damage can lead to lung cancer over the course of a lifetime.

According to Paula Cox, Environmental Health Manager with the GC DHHS, “The chance of developing radon-induced lung cancer depends on many factors, which includes the level of radon exposure and time you are exposed to this radioactive gas. Smoking increases your chances of radon-induced lung cancer by nine times that of a non-smoker.”

The only way to determine whether you have a radon problem is to test your home, and free kits are available from Public Health on a first-come, first serve basis. If you would like to test your home for radon, you may call Environmental Health at 336-641-3771 or come by the GC DHHS Environmental Health third floor office located at 1203 Maple Street, Greensboro. One test per home is generally sufficient to test for radon, unless your home is extremely large (more than 10,000 square feet). To get the most accurate radon level test result, test the lowest living level of your home.

For more information, please visit the State of North Carolina website, www.ncradon.org.