An Overview of Radon Risk for Douglas County, Colorado Residents
Radon — a carcinogenic byproduct of uranium decay, invades many American homes to an unhealthy degree. As a matter of fact, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that over 20,000 deaths each year are due to radon-induced lung cancer. The bad news is that you can’t detect radon in your home without specialized equipment. The good news is that the options for radon testing are inexpensive and easy to find. If your home turns out to have high levels of radon, there are several strategies you can use to reduce your risks of respiratory damage.
Radon is everywhere—in the rock and soil under your home, in the outdoor air, even in the water for people who have a private well. Most of the time radon is harmless, diluted in the outdoor air or sealed away from your home by your building’s construction, but sometimes, especially in older homes, radon accumulates in the lower parts of your home and emanates into your living space. Once it is in your home, it breaks down into carcinogenic particles that you breathe in as you sleep, eat, and work around your house. This can lead to lung damage, especially if someone in the home is a smoker.
Douglas County, Colorado is at a Higher Risk of Radon Exposure
Douglas County, Colorado residents have a much higher than average chance of finding high levels of radon in their home than the average American. The geology of Minnesota—and Douglas County in particular—means an average reading of close to 6 picocuries per liter in a Douglas County, Colorado residence as opposed to the national average of 1.3 pCi/L. Picocuries are a measure of radioactivity, one which the EPA uses to warn homeowners about the threat of indoor radon. According to the EPA, a level of over 4 pCi/L should prompt a homeowner to seek radon mitigation. In Douglas County some 55% of homes tested have been found to have levels above 4 pCi/L.
Geology is not the only reason for high levels of indoor radon. Homes constructed without prevention measures, or buildings that are poorly maintained with cracks and loose pipes and drains, contribute to the entry of radon into your living space. Negative pressure inside your home can also draw radon indoors—for example, wood stoves, dryer vents, and fireplaces.
Radon – The Silent Killer
Because radon is an odorless, colorless, tasteless gas, the only way to know if it’s there is to perform a radon detection test. Test kits are generally found at local Douglas County hardware stores, supermarkets, and home improvement centers for under $25. If you prefer, you can hire a certified radon specialist to test your home for the presence of radon. Once you have your test result, you can make a determination about what steps to take next. If your indoor radon levels exceed EPA standards, you may want to seek radon mitigation services.
You can take radon reduction measures yourself by sealing any obvious cracks in concrete or covering exposed dirt crawlspaces with some impermeable building material, but you might consider hiring a certified radon mitigation technician. A professional can assess your particular structure’s needs and provide the most economical and effective solution to radon reduction, customized to your home and level of radon threat.
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