With winter upon us, and the rush to plug drafty windows and doors, as well as cracks and crevices, there is a danger that most of us don’t think about, lurking inside our homes. Radon.
According to Chaffee County Public Health (CCPH), January is National Radon Awareness Month
By now most Americans are aware that radon gas is the second-leading cause of lung cancer after cigarette smoking. For most non-smokers, radon gas is public enemy #1.
Radon comes from the natural decay of uranium in the soil, with a release into the air that we breathe. Radon is colorless, odorless and tasteless. Radon gas enters from below each home, with higher levels detected on the ground floor and lower-level living rooms.
CCPH now has four years of radon testing data from Chaffee County homes. The testing has revealed an average radon concentration of 8.2 picocuries per liter—more than double the EPA maximum level of 4.0 pCi/L. This compares to radon levels throughout Colorado, with average levels being above 8.0 pCi/L.
But be aware that this average, as high as it may sound, could be clouding over the possibility that indoor radon concentration in your own house could be 10 times or more higher. The only way to know is to test your home.
Chaffee County Public Health currently has free radon test kits available (one per household) in both their Salida and Buena Vista locations.
“Handing out free radon test kits is so frustrating, if the homeowner stashes the kit in the top drawer next to the TV remote control and never uses it,” said Chaffee County Environmental Health Coordinator Wano Urbonas. “We hope that Chaffee citizens make a New Years’ commitment to perform their free home radon test before January 31, and to ensure that indoor air quality is safely monitored and maintained.”
“Some residents have asked whether radon levels are higher in Salida or Buena Vista or in-between,” notes Urbanos. A review of over 300 radon results has shown the following:
Buena Vista: average radon gas = 7.8 picocuries per liter
Salida: average radon gas = 7.4 picocuries per liter
The surrounding areas such as Poncha Springs and Nathrop have a limited sample size, yet are expected to reveal similar results.
“What I would like to emphasize is that more than 30 percent of Chaffee County residential homes have radon levels more than twice the EPA recommended action level of 4 picocuries,” cautions Urbanos.
For more information regarding January Radon Action Month:
Or call Chaffee County Public and Environmental Health: Buena Vista office: 719-207-1498, Salida office: 719-539-4510.