El Paso County, CO – January is National Radon Action Month, and El Paso County Public Health (EPCPH) encourages residents to take action by testing their homes for radon. Radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States, and El Paso County has been designated as an area with high radon potential,according to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE).
According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), radon causes about 21,000 lung cancer deaths each year. Nearly 50 percent of Colorado homes have unhealthy levels of cancer-causing radon, aradioactive gas that has no color, odor, or taste. Radon results from the natural breakdown of uranium found in soils, rock, and water. Radon in Colorado is generated by the radioactive decay of radium, which is present in uranium-bearing soils found throughout the Rocky Mountains and the eastern plains.All homes, regardless of construction type or style, can have elevated radon levels. Because radon isinvisible and odorless, the only way to know if your home has a high level of radon is to test.
“Extended exposure to radon can affect your health,” said Melissa Rogerson, air quality program manager for El Paso County Public Health. “Radon is the leading cause of lung cancer in nonsmokers, so El Paso County Public Health encourages you to test your home for radon this winter. Testing is easy and can tell you if you have elevated levels of radon in your home. We recommend testing your home during the winter months, when you typically have the doors and windows closed. This will lead to the most accurate test results.”
Test kits are generally inexpensive to purchase, and homes and buildings that have high levels of radon can be mitigated with simple and affordable venting techniques. Programs do exist, however, to reduce the cost of testing and mitigation for those in need:
- CDPHE offers discounted and low-cost radon test kits. To learn more, or to find a test kit, visit cdphe.colorado.gov/testing-your-home-radon.
- CDPHE’s Low Income Radon Mitigation Assistance Program can assist those in need with the costs of radon mitigation systems. Visit the site to apply or for information about eligibility. 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 shopping for a radon test kit should 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 at elpasocountyhealth.org/services/radon and cdphe.colorado.gov/testing-your- home-radon.Homeowners who already have radon mitigation systems should retest their homes every few years to makesure the system is working properly.
For more information about radon testing, call (719) 578-3199and select option3, or visit elpasocountyhealth.org.