You can’t smell radon in your house, but the invisible culprit can kill you. January is National Radon Action Month. It’s a time when most Colorado homes are closed up and air is stale and stuck inside.
In Boulder County, around 50% of houses have unhealthy radon levels, which is astonishing when compared to the rest of the country, which averages only 6% of houses with unhealthy radon levels. The average radon level in a Colorado house is above the EPA guideline of 4.0 pCi/L (before mitigation). Breathing radon at that level is like smoking eight cigarettes per day.
Radon is the byproduct of naturally occurring uranium, and can be found in soil and rock, especially granite, around the state. Many homes in the Lyons area are situated on granite foundations. It is odorless, colorless, and its presence can only be confirmed by a radon detector.
Radon is a contributor to lung cancer. Each year in Colorado, about 500 deaths are attributed to radon exposure. If you don’t have a radon remediation system (they are usually in the basement or lowest level of a house), you may need one. These systems remove radon gas and send it outdoors. If you bought a house and did not understand what that out “U” shape meter is for, you need to research it, and find out if is working and if you are safe.
Granite countertops are all the rage these days; so are they safe? According to the EPA, It is possible for any granite sample to contain varying concentrations of uranium and other naturally occurring radioactive elements. However, at this time EPA believes that the existing data is insufficient to conclude that the types of granite commonly used in countertops are significantly increasing indoor radon levels.
==TESTING YOUR HOME==
Low-cost test kits can be found at local hardware and home improvement stores. In Boulder County, low-cost test kits are available at ReSource Central (resourcecentral.org). Alternatively, Kansas State University offers low-cost test kits online at sosradon.org for $17.
There are many do-it-yourself radon test kits available through retail outlets and on-line, from $15 to $25. If your home has a radon level of 4 picocuries per liter (pCi/L) of air or more, you should take steps to fix your home and reduce the radon level. Contact your state radon office for assistance. Hire a qualified radon professional (EPA Kit and Professional Info) Make sure you chose an inspectors who is trained, certified and experienced in radon inspections.
UPDATE: Larimer County has free kits for its residents at the health department and town hall, while supplies last. 1/24/23