Clearing the air from the impacts of radon in Garfield County
Garfield County offers free test kits and workshops to residents; Homes with results above the “action limit” should consider mitigation
Date: Tuesday, June 4, 5:30 to 7:00 p.m.
Location: Garfield County Administration building – 108 8th Street.
Date: Thursday, June 6, 5:30 to 7:00 p.m.
Location: Garfield County Administrative Annex – 195 West 14th Street.
Organizers: Garfield Clean Energy and CLEER.
Radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the U.S. after smoking, and the radioactive gas could be present in local homes and buildings at alarming levels.
According to the Garfield County Environmental Health Department, 40 percent of the tested homes in Garfield County registered levels of radon above the “action limit” of 4 picocuries per liter of air (pCi/L).
Odorless, tasteless and colorless, radon is naturally present in the atmosphere, but if inhaled at high levels over time, can deteriorate the body’s cells and eventually lead to lung cancer.
Mountain states like Colorado are considered at high risk of having radon. “A lot has to do with our geology,” said Morgan Hill, radon expert with Garfield County Environmental Health.
“Mountain areas have a lot of cracks and fissures in the rocks that provide pathways for radon to get to the surface,” explained Hill.
“The only way to know if you have radon in your home is testing,” said Morgan Hill, who is certified in radon testing.
According to Hill, radon is a problem that can affect any foundation type, new and old. “A newer home may have a more tightly sealed basement or foundation, but once the gas enters the house it accumulates, as the air doesn’t escape as easily.”
Garfield County offers free short-term radon testing kits to homeowners and renters in three different locations across the county – the public health offices in Glenwood Springs and Rifle, and at the CLEER office in Carbondale.
Short-term and long-term tests can also be found at hardware stores or online.
The kits distributed by the county come with bilingual instructions created by Hill, and take an average of seven days from installation to getting the laboratory results.
The test should be placed from four to five days in a common area of the house, such as a family room, bedroom or hallway, at nose level – from three to six feet from the ground.
“The goal is to test the air we normally breathe,” said Hill. “It’s important to avoid placing it close to high moisture areas like kitchen and bathroom, and heat sources like light bulbs.”
This week, Hill will lead the free workshop “Radon and Your Home,” June 4 in Glenwood Springs and June 6 in Rifle.
The event will cover health risks associated with radon, testing and mitigation. Hill will also share tips on how to set up a mitigation system yourself. “It is possible to do it yourself and it can be a great way to save money,” said Hill.
The event will also distribute testing kits, offer a discount coupon for a mitigation system, and answer questions from the community on how to keep families safe from radon gas.
“A lot of health risks are out of our control, but this one is not. If you test your house for radon and mitigate it if necessary, you are removing an active source of cancer for you and your family,” said Hill.
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