By Jesse Wood
Dec. 26, 2012. Of the 100 counties in North Carolina, Watauga County ranks among those with the highest potential exposure to radon, a cancer-causing gas found both inside homes and outdoors.
The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that 20,000 lung cancer deaths each year in the U.S. are radon related, and exposure to radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer after smoking.
Radon is an odorless, tasteless and invisible gas produced by the decay of naturally occurring uranium in soil and water. Radon is a form of ionizing radiation and a proven carcinogen. Lung cancer is the only known effect on human health from exposure to radon in air.
January is National Radon Action Month, designated by the EPA.
The EPA recommends homes be fixed if the radon level is 4 pCi/L (picocuries per liter) or more, the level of which Watauga County happens to be at. The average concentration of radon in outdoor air is .4 pCi/L or 1/10th of EPA’s 4 pCi/L action level.
Located at 971 West King Street, the Watauga County Cooperative Extension Service offers free radon test kits.
To learn more, go to http://www.epa.gov/radon/