Colorado Officials Try To Raise Radon Risk Awareness
Radon is an odorless, tasteless radioactive gas that occurs naturally in our environment. Long-term exposure to radon can cause lung cancer. That's why Colorado and the Environmental Protection Agency have declared January a call to action month for radon testing.
A Radon Presentation In Delta
A backroom at the Delta County Library is full. Nearly 50 people are here to learn about radon.
It’s a naturally occurring radioactive gas that’s caused by the breakdown of uranium in soil.
"All homes may have elevated levels of radon," Ken Nordstrom, director of environmental health for Delta County, says. "Radon is in the soil...but most prevalent in bedrock soils."
His department put on the presentation at the library.
"When a house is built radon can seep in through the crawl space or through cracks in the floor or into the house causing elevated levels that can cause cancer," Nordstrom says.
Breathing in those elevated levels of radon over a long-term period is a health risk.
Levels at 4 picocuries per liter of air or higher are considered unsafe.
Long-term exposure to high levels of radon in the home or workplace can cause lung cancer.
The EPA says each year about 21,000 Americans die from lung cancer caused by radon. Only smoking causes more lung cancer deaths.
Health officials say the best way to protect yourself from the gas is by testing your home. And, winter is the perfect time to do it because when you test you need to keep all of your doors and windows closed.
People at the presentation were given free radon home testing kits.
Delta resident Walt Price says he came to learn about the gas and get a kit. Price has lung cancer.
"I smoked for 50 years so that’s my fault, but I want to make sure my family don’t get it," Price says.
Patricia Yoshida says she plans to test the radon levels in her house using the kit.
"We are going to go home and try it out right away," Yoshida says.
Nordstrom says the kits are for short-term use.
"It is pure charcoal that will absorb the radon gas into the charcoal canister," he says. "And then the canister is sent to a laboratory [for testing]."
He says the results are sent to homeowners and the county so it can track radon levels in the area.
A Video Played At The Presentation
For more information on radon visit the Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment's website.