Homeowners are at the highest exposure to radon when doors and windows are all closed up during winter. Winter months are the perfect time to test for radon – a colorless, odorless radioactive gas that comes from the natural breakdown of uranium in soil.
The City of Fort Collins Healthy Homes program offers free, home health assessments to Fort Collins residents that evaluate indoor air quality, including a free radon test kit. Radon gas is drawn into homes and other buildings through cracks and openings in basements, crawl spaces and slabs. Radon levels vary from house to house and have nothing to do with age, quality or upkeep of the home.
The City also sells radon testing kits year-round at the Senior Center, 1200 Raintree Drive, and the Development Review Center, 281 N. College Ave. Short-term kits are $5 (including taxes); long-term kits are $18. Residents can also go to fcgov.com/radon for instructional tools on how to test for radon and a list of certified radon mitigators.
Wintertime generally is a good time for residents to proactively reduce their exposure through inexpensive testing and mitigation for radon. Radon is the leading cause of non-smoker lung cancer in the U.S., according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Two out of three homes tested in Fort Collins between 1990 and 2012 had dangerous levels of radon in their homes.
Residents should test their homes every two years, even if they previously have had negative test results.
“Radon is an important health issue in our community,” says Mary Pat Aardrup, program coordinator for Healthy Homes. “We must find creative solutions and tools to encourage people to test their homes and seek resources for mitigation.”
Homes create a vacuum because the indoor air pressure is lower than outdoor air pressure. This vacuum allows more radon to enter the home and become trapped inside. Exposure to concentrations of radon over a long-period of time is more likely to cause lung cancer than exposure to second-hand smoke. Radon exposure is a greater risk for children than for adults.
Homes with a test-result higher than 4.0 pCi/L need to mitigate the radon, according to the EPA.