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RALEIGH — In conjunction with National Radon Action Month, the North Carolina Radon Program is distributing 3,000 radon test kits at no charge this month.

Radon is a naturally occurring radioactive gas that is invisible, odorless and tasteless. It is released from the ground into outdoor air but can accumulate and reach harmful levels when trapped in homes and other buildings. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates that radon is responsible for more than 22,000 lung cancer deaths per year in the United States.

High levels of radon have been detected in homes in all 100 North Carolina counties, according to Carolina Public Press, but eight counties are considered most at risk — Alleghany, Buncombe, Rockingham, Cherokee, Henderson, Mitchell, Transylvania and Watauga. These areas sit atop gneiss, schist and granite, which are rock types with higher than average concentrations of uranium, Carolina Public Press reported.

The kits are available at no charge through a grant received from the EPA and can be requested by visiting http://nc.radon.com.

Other radon awareness activities during January include four webinars hosted by the N.C. Cooperative Extension Service. The webinars are open to the public and target the following groups to increase their knowledge of radon: medical providers, physicians, homebuilders and real estate brokers. To register for the webinars, go to Upcoming Events at www.ncradon.org.

The N.C. Radon Program, part of the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services, provides information to families and homeowners about radon gas including how to test for radon gas and how to lower radon levels within a home. For more information on radon, visit www.ncradon.org.

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