January is National Radon Action Month and for Coloradans it is an important time to educate yourself, test your home, and mitigate if there is an issue. Radon is the number one cause of lung cancer among non-smokers, according to EPA estimates. Overall, radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer. It is an odorless gas, and is undetectable without testing. Bottom line: if you are buying a home in Colorado, be sure to have it tested for radon during the inspection process. If you are building in Colorado, ask your home builder if radon-resistant construction features were used and if the home has been tested.
Radon in the Boulder Foothills
Radon is not exclusively a mountain issue but since many of these mountain homes are built on top of the granite that makes these beautiful mountains, it has a higher probability of being a problem. Before I continue, I want to point out that radon is mitigatable. If you detect high radon in your home it is important to solve the issue, but it does not constitute an emergency. Radon is dangerous if you are exposed to it over long periods of time. So while it isn’t something to panic over, mitigating as quickly as possible is important.
Testing Radon Levels
There are a couple of different ways to detect radon to see if your home is at risk. You can purchase a one-time radon test kit online or in home improvement stores for as little as $15. These tests will have to be mailed into a lab for testing and results. Continuous radon detectors are also available online for $100+. This could be a good investment for keeping an active eye on your home’s radon levels as they can shift over time. There are also professionals who can come into your home and test the levels for you.
Mitigating the Problem
Any reading over 4 picocuries per liter, or pCi/L is cause for mitigation. Readings between 2-4 pcl/L should be considered for mitigation. Mitigation is relatively inexpensive as far as home repair issues go – usually between $800-1200. Here’s what it generally entails: a hole will be drilled through the foundation of the home and a pipe inserted. The pipe will be connected to a fan and will run up through the house out the roof where it will exhaust the radon.
Even with mitigation, or in the case of a “safe” level of radon, it is important to test your home every couple of years to see if the levels rise. Keep your home and your family safe!