If you want to breathe easy in your Yampa Valley home, check for the presence of radon gas. Radon is a colorless, odorless radioactive gas that can enter the home through cracks in the floor or spaces around utility pipes. This invisible killer is considered the second leading cause of lung cancer (following smoking), according to the Surgeon General.
All homes in Colorado should be tested for radon because every house is different. It is possible for one home in a neighborhood to have low radon levels while their neighbor has extremely high levels. The risk of radon in a home can be influenced by several factors: soil type, “tightness” of the home, air pressure, type of heating and ventilation system, and lifestyle of the occupant. Testing is the only way to know if you and your family are at risk from radon gas.
The easiest way to test for radon is with a short-term test kit. This small detector can be placed in the lowest livable space in your home for two to seven days. Test kits include complete instructions and return postage for mailing the kit back to the lab for analysis. Most importantly, look for kits that are approved by the EPA. Contact the Routt County Extension Office for low cost, short-term test kits.
Surveys conducted by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment indicate that 4 out of 10 Colorado homes have the potential for having radon concentrations in excess of the EPA guideline of 4.0 pCi/L. In Routt County recent radon test results have shown radon levels as high as 20.9 pCi/L, so it is imperative that every home be tested.
The good news is that there are a variety of methods to lower radon levels in a home. These can include venting crawlspaces, sealing cracks and other openings in the foundation, and covering sump pump holes. The right solution depends on the design of the home and other factors, so a qualified radon mitigation specialist is recommended.