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Radon is the second-leading cause of lung cancer in the United States
Contact:Maya Kulick, Senior Environmental Health Specialist: 970-668-4070
SUMMIT COUNTY – The Board of County Commissioners proclaimed January 2019 to be Radon Action Month, encouraging all local residents and homeowners to test their homes for radon and then to mitigate when high levels are found."Radon is the No. 1 cause of lung cancer among non-smokers, according to EPA estimates," Commissioner Karn Stiegelmeier said. "Overall, radon is the second-leading cause of lung cancer in the United States. And because of the high radon levels we see in Summit County, every home in our community should be tested."Radon is a cancer-causing radioactive gas that naturally occurs at high levels in Summit County's soils, rock and water. It makes its way into a building through the foundation, constructions joints and gaps around pipes. The building then traps the gas. Radon levels inside homes tend to be highest during colder months, when doors and windows are nearly always closed.Radon is responsible for an estimated 21,000 deaths each year in the United States. EPA recommends reducing radon levels within buildings that have 4.0 picocuries of radon per liter of air (pCi/L) or higher. To put this exposure in perspective, 4.0 pCi/L carries the same lung-cancer risk as smoking eight cigarettes per day. Summit County Environmental Health has found that local homes have an average radon level of 10 pCi/L, which is comparable to smoking a pack of cigarettes per day. The good news is that testing a home for radon is free and easy, and radon mitigation systems are very effective.
Test Your HomeSummit County Environmental Health offers free radon test kits for local residents. Short-term kits monitor radon over a period of three to seven days, and long-term kits assess levels over three to 12 months. The kits are available in the Summit County Environmental Health offices in the Summit County Commons, 0037 Peak One Dr., Frisco, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday.
The short-term test kits are about the size and shape of a postcard. The device should be hung in the lowest level of the home that’s used on a regular basis, within the normal breathing zone (2 to 6 feet from the floor). Once the test period ends, the device is mailed to a laboratory in the enclosed pre-addressed, postage-paid envelope. Test results can be retrieved online. If previous tests have not been performed properly, Summit County Environmental Health recommends retesting.
Because radon has no color or smell, it’s impossible to detect its presence using your senses. Without a test kit, you could have unsafe levels of radon in your home and never know it. Residents are encouraged to take advantage of this free service while supplies last.
Reduce Radon LevelsWhen homes are measured to have radon levels greater than or equal to 4.0 pCi/L, EPA recommends that a mitigation system be installed. Homes found to have high levels of radon generally don’t require major changes to correct the problem.
“A certified radon mitigation contractor can seal cracks and install venting systems and fans that reduce radon levels inside a home,” said Maya Kulick, environmental health specialist for Summit County Environmental Health. “The cost is reasonable when compared with other home improvements, and in some cases financial assistance may be available.”
Monitor Radon LevelsAfter a radon mitigation system is installed, the homeowner should continue to monitor radon levels to ensure they are safe. Retesting every two years will verify whether the system is still working properly. Homeowners should also retest for radon following any renovation activity, such as window replacements, door replacements, home additions, weather stripping and home energy efficiency improvements.
For more information on radon, including how to obtain a free radon test kit or finding a certified mitigation contractor, visit www.SummitCountyCO.gov/radon.
Summit County Environmental Health (SCEH) works to control environmental factors that impact human health and the environment. SCEH addresses issues such as food sanitation, air quality, water quality and communicable diseases. SCEH is a division of Summit County Public Health.