EL PASO COUNTY, Colo.– Radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States, and El Paso County is an area with high radon potential, according to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.
According to the EPA, radon causes about 21,000 lung cancer deaths each year. Nearly 50% of Colorado homes have unhealthy levels of cancer-causing radon, a radioactive gas that has no color, odor, or taste.
Radon in Colorado is generated by the radioactive decay of radium, which is present in uranium-bearing soils found throughout the Rockies and plains. All homes can have elevated radon levels.
“January is National Radon Action Month, and now is the perfect time to start the process of testing your home for radon,” said Melissa Rogerson, air quality program manager for El Paso County Public Health. “We recommend testing your home during the winter months, when you typically have the doors and windows closed. While you can test in the summer months, it can lead to a lower result, which may give a false sense of security. Testing is easy, and typically includes setting out a short-term test kit for 24 to 48 hours and sending it back to a laboratory.”
Test kits are inexpensive to purchase, and discounted kits are available. To find a testing kit, visit cdphe.colorado.gov/testing-your-home-radon. Look for kits marked “certified by the National Radon Proficiency Program.”
The recommended action limit for radon is four picocuries per liter (pCi/L). If your house tests higher than four pCi/L, you can find information about mitigation and how to choose a certified mitigation contractor here and here.
Homes and buildings with high levels of radon can be mitigated with simple and affordable venting. Homeowners who already have radon mitigation systems should retest their homes every few years to make sure the system is working properly.
For more information, the EPA recommends the following resources: National Radon Proficiency Program at www.nrpp.info and National Radon Safety Board at www.nrsb.org. Those in need may apply for financial assistance with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment’s Low Income Radon Mitigation Assistance Program.
For more information about radon testing, call (719) 578-3199 and select option 3.