ARAPAHOE COUNTY, Colo. -- Whether you're new to Colorado, or have lived here a long time, there's something you need to know about our state. Every single Colorado county is at a high risk for radon gas.
"It’s largely because radon is a byproduct of the decay of uranium and it exists in our soil everywhere because we live in a highly mineralized state," said Warren Smith, a spokesperson for the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.
Radon seeps into homes through cracks in the foundation, or around electrical outlets and pipes. The only way to know there is too much radon is getting into your home is to test for it.
While no amount of radon is considered safe, the EPA action level is 4 picocuries per liter of air. So a home with a reading above a "4" will need to have a mitigation system installed. It's estimated 50 percent of homes in Colorado have radon levels higher than the EPA recommendation.
"It’s not something to panic about," says Smith. "It’s not like carbon monoxide. It won’t suffocate you, but the problem occurs when it builds up in your home and you’re exposed to it for many, many years."
Prolonged exposure to radon is the leading cause of lung cancer among non-smokers. Homeowners can lower their risk by installing a radon mitigation system. The state has a list of certified radon mitigation contractors.
"Basically it’s just a fan and an exhaust pipe, and what you want is for the vapors to come up through the pipe and out into the air where they’re going to dissipate and be harmless," says Smith.
January is a great time to test for radon, because the test requires all doors and windows in the home to remain closed. The state has information on ordering a test kit. Colorado residents can also get a coupon for a free test kit , one per household, while supplies last.