Jan 2, 2020
Colorado has the highest radon potential possible; high levels can cause cancer
Radon is a silent killer that could be seeping into your home without you even knowing it. Now, the Denver Department of Public Health & Environment (DDPHE) wants to help you test for it.
As part of Radon Action Month, DDPHE is encouraging residents to test their homes for the cancer-causing gas with a free radon test kit. The kits must be picked up in person at the Denver Post building at 101 W. Colfax Ave. Residents should call 3-1-1 to schedule an appointment to pick-up their kit.
Radon is a colorless, odorless and tasteless radioactive gas that comes from the natural breakdown of uranium in soil, rock and water. It creeps through cracks of a home’s foundation with potentially deadly results. Every year, about 500 Coloradans die from lung cancer after long-term exposure to radon. About 21,000 people die nationally.
“Radon exposure is a significant risk. This is the leading cause of lung cancer for non-smokers. Radon decays into radioactive particles, when inhaled, can damage the DNA in sensitive lung cells. The damaged cells can become cancerous,” says Robert McDonald, DDPHE’s Executive Director and Public Health Administrator. “A simple test could help save your life and that of your loved ones.”
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) ranks our state as an area with the highest radon potential possible at Zone 1. Colorado residential radon data shows about half of homes test at or above the EPA Radon Action Level of 4 pCi/L (picocurries per liter). The EPA recommends Americans fix their homes if radon levels are at that level or higher. The average outdoor concentration of radon is .4 pCi/L or one-tenth of the EPA’s maximum threshold of 4pCi/L.
If a test comes back with elevated levels of radon, DDPHE recommends performing a second, follow-up test. If those results confirm elevated levels, DDPHE recommends you consider contracting with a licensed, radon mitigation professional to reduce the elevated radon levels in your home. Make sure you are hiring a certified contractor, by checking with the National Radon Proficiency Program. Some residents may quality for low-cost or no-cost assistance through the Low-Income Radon Mitigation Assistance (LIRMA) Program that is available through the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.
DDPHE has about 700 do-it-yourself kits available on a first-come, first-served basis. Radon kits are also available at hardware stores and sold for around $25.
DDPHE recommends testing your home every two to three years.