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Residents in parts of British Columbia’s southern Interior will only need a valid library card if they want access to a tool that could help make their homes safer.

The Thompson-Nicola Regional Library says radon detector kits are now available to borrow from more than one dozen branches in the region.

Radon, an invisible, radioactive gas produced when uranium breaks down in soil and rock, normally dilutes to safe levels as it emerges in outside air, but homes and other buildings can often concentrate radon to hazardous levels.

Health Canada ranks radon as the number-one cause of lung cancer in non-smokers.

HealthLink BC, the provincial government’s online health information service, says between six and 30 per cent of buildings in Interior and northern regions of the province report radon levels greater than allowable standards.

A statement from the library says the radon kits will only be available to borrow between Sept. 1 and April 30 because radon readings are less accurate during the summer when windows and doors are open and the gas can dissipate.

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