January is National Radon Action Month and the State Department of Public Health (DPH) is urging Connecticut residents to test their homes for radon gas, the leading cause of lung cancer in non-smokers. Health officials estimate that radon is responsible for more than 21,000 lung cancer deaths each year in the United States.

As part of the State program, the Wilton Health Department is offering free radon testing beginning Jan. 2, 2017. The health department received only 49 kits that will be available to the first 49 callers. An appointment is required to have the health department come out and perform the test. Please note this testing is not for those seeking a radon report for a residential or commercial property transaction.

Testing is recommended in the winter months, when radon tends to be highest. Testing homes for radon is simple and inexpensive.

A naturally occurring radioactive gas formed from the natural decay of uranium, radon is found in rock, soil and water. While radon in outdoor air poses a relatively low threat to human health, it can enter homes from the surrounding soil and become a health hazard inside buildings.

Because radon cannot be seen or smelled, people are often unaware that this silent killer could be in their homes. Testing for radon and reducing elevated levels is important and could save lives.

To set up an appointment or for more information please contact Jennifer Zbell, RS, Wilton town sanitarian at 203.563.0176.

Radon test kits can be purchased at many hardware stores and from the American Lung Association of New England by calling 401.533.5173 or visiting their website.

According to a press release from the Wilton Health Department, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recommends that homes with radon levels at 4.0 pCi/L or higher should be fixed. Homeowners can further reduce their potential lung cancer risk by fixing homes that are below 4 pCi/L. Smokers exposed to radon have a much higher risk for developing lung cancer.

Radon problems can be corrected by qualified radon contractors, with costs typically ranging between $1,200 and $1,500. A homeowner should hire a qualified radon mitigation (reduction) contractor to decrease airborne radon levels.

To learn more about radon and to obtain a list of qualified radon mitigation contractors, contact the Wilton Health Department (203.563.0176) or learn more about the DPH Radon Program online or by calling 860.509.7367.