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High radon levels can be problem in Triangle homes

Four Triangle counties, including Wake County, have some of the state's highest levels of radon, an odorless, invisible gas that can cause lung cancer.

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RALEIGH, N.C. — Four Triangle counties have some of the state's highest levels of radon, a naturally radioactive gas that can cause lung cancer after long exposure, according to the North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources.

Radon levels stay high north from Wake County through Franklin, Vance and Warren counties. The only other areas with similar levels are in the mountains.

Newlyweds Mark and Karen Hite learned about the high level of radon months after they bought a north Raleigh home. A radon test revealed levels twice as high as the recommended EPA limit.

"We were shocked," Karen Hite said.

They consulted experts to learn more about the gas. "It only become a concern when it's trapped inside the home and can't escape, can't get back outside," said Dr. Zyg Gromadzki, founder and co-owner of Radon Testing Labs.

It turns out the Hites bought a home in an area prone to high radon levels.

"That portion of Wake County sits on a huge granite formation. The uranium which causes radon is trapped in the granite formation," Gromadzki.

Radon testing supplies can cost as little as $10. For the most accurate results, experts recommend hiring a certified, professional to test for radon.

Lowering radon levels, though, can be much more costly. A system that can be installed in homes costs about $1,500.

The Hites said they wish they could have had information before they bought a house.

Their buyers' agreement did say they could pay extra for a radon test, but the couple said they didn't see it. North Carolina does not require radon testing during home inspections.

"We could have made an educated decision about whether or not to purchase the home," Karen Hite said.


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