Environment
6:04 pm
Mon January 27, 2014

Radon Levels Raise Concerns in Several NC Counties

January is National Radon Action Month. The gas, also known as the silent killer, is found in high concentrations in some parts of the Piedmont Triad.

Eight counties in N.C. are considered in the red zone from the EPA for high radon levels. The counties are Alleghany, Buncombe, Rockingham, Cherokee, Henderson, Mitchell, Transylvania and Watauga .
Eight counties in N.C. are considered in the red zone from the EPA for high radon levels. The counties are Alleghany, Buncombe, Rockingham, Cherokee, Henderson, Mitchell, Transylvania and Watauga .
Credit EPA

According to the EPA, radon is the leading cause of lung cancer deaths among nonsmokers in the U.S. and claims the lives of about 21,000 Americans each year. 

Jen Hames, the health education supervisor at the Davidson County Health Department, explains why some parts of the state have higher concentrations of radon.

“Radon is a naturally occurring gas, but it is in the rocks and soil, and to some degree it may be in the ground water as well, so any part of the state that has a lot of rocky areas is going to have a higher level of radon. There are about 20 counties that are considered to have a higher level in the state and Davidson County is one of them,” says Hames.

Some of the highest levels of radon in the state can be found in Rockingham, Alleghany and Watauga counties.

Health officials say exposure to radon is a preventable health risk and testing radon levels in your home can help prevent unnecessary exposure. 

“With the radon coming into the house through the cracks in the floors and the walls, or maybe coming in through the water supply, you can fill in those cracks and the gaps around surface pipes cavities inside the walls and other places. This will cut down on your exposure to radon,” says Hames

The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services received funding from the EPA to provide free test kits to residents this month through its website. But the department ran out of the kits last week because the response has been so high.

Hames says the kits are relatively inexpensive and can be purchased at most hardware stores. They run around $10.00.