RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services is giving out 5,000 free radon test kits this month during Radon Action Month.

Radon, which NCDHHS says is “released from the ground into outdoor air,” can reach harmful levels when it gets trapped and accumulates in homes and buildings.

The only way to determine if a home has risky levels of the odorless, colorless gas is to test for it. North Carolina residents can order a free test kit this month, while supplies last, at radon.ncdhhs.gov.

According to NCDHHS, radon is the leading cause of lung cancer for non-smokers, and around 450 North Carolinians die each year from radon-induced lung cancer. The risk factor for that type of cancer for current or former tobacco smokers also increases by 10 if they live in a place with elevated levels of the harmful gas.

Data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicates that 73 of North Carolina’s 100 counties have indoor air radon levels that are “above safety standards,” meaning a level of four picoCuries per liter of air.

The NC Radon Program recommends that people who find elevated levels in their homes or buildings hire a certified radon mitigator to help bring the risk level down. More information on radon mitigation can be found here. [source]