WILKES-BARRE -- Free home radon test kits are available to residents of nine counties in northeast and north-central Pennsylvania, thanks to a $75,000 grant from the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection to the American Lung Association, or ALA.

The kits are offered to residents of Schuylkill, Bradford, Clinton, Lycoming, Northumberland, Potter, Sullivan, Susquehanna and Tioga counties.

"These test kits equip residents with information needed to confront the dangers of having radon in our homes," DEP Secretary Mike Krancer said. "By providing this vital tool, DEP and ALA are making sure residents stay safe and informed."

The testing is part of a three-year, community-based program ALA sponsors to promote radon awareness in Pennsylvania. The first year of the program is focused on the northeast region, which ALA has identified as having lower radon testing rates and greater likelihood of elevated radon levels than other areas of the state.

Radon is a naturally occurring radioactive gas that is colorless, odorless and tasteless. It is second only to cigarette smoking as a cause of lung cancer. The only way to know the level of radon inside a home or other kind of building is to test for it, and the U.S. Surgeon General and ALA recommend that all homes be tested for radon. Nearly one in 15 homes nationwide has a high level of indoor radon, and in Pennsylvania, the rates are even higher.

Residents who are interested in obtaining a kit can do so in several ways. Visit ALA's website at www.lunginfo.org/freeradonkit [1] , where Pennsylvania residents can order a free home radon test kit, while supplies last.

School-based programs at which ALA representatives give presentations may provide radon test kits to students for use in their homes. Commitment from parents that the test would be performed is required and, ideally, the school would use the radon program as part of its science lessons.

ALA staff members or the organization's cooperative partners may also provide radon test kits to members of the public at community outreach events. In the past, businesses, extension agents, health centers, municipal governments, shopping malls and civic clubs have participated.

Interested schools and organizations should contact Tony Delonti, ALA program specialist, at 570-346-1784 or adelonti@lunginfo.org [2].

For more information, visit www.dep.state.pa.us [3] or call (717) 783-3594.