The importance of testing for Radon at home

SU Environmental Program

What is Radon?

Radon is a naturally occurring, colorless, odorless, radioactive gas that is released when rocks and soil breakdown. Radon is measured in picocuries per liter (pCi/L). The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have set the “actionable level” at 4.0 pCi/L, which means radon concentration in a home should not exceed that level.

Where is it found?

Radon is naturally occurring and found everywhere. The average radon level outdoors is about 0.4 pCi/L, and indoors is 1.3pCi/L. The EPA considers La Plata and Archuleta counties Radon Zone 2 which means on average, indoor radon levels range from 2.0 to 4.0 pCi/L, while Montezuma county is considered Radon Zone 1 with indoor radon levels that are typically greater than the 4.0 pCi/L actionable level.

Should I be concerned?

Elevated radon levels are something that should be addressed whenever possible. The EPA says, “Radon causes more than 20,000 deaths from lung cancer each year in the U.S.,” and recommends having your home tested if you are concerned.

How does it get in my home?

Typically, radon moves up through the ground towards the air. Often times, buildings create a natural vacuum of low pressure which can draw radon into the home through the foundation, construction joints, cracks, wall cavities or crawlspaces.

What does radon testing look like?

Testing typically occurs during winter months when windows are regularly kept closed. This gives an accurate representation of radon levels in the home. During a test, a continuous measuring radon monitor will be placed in the lowest livable level of the home and set to run for 72 hours. Following the conclusion of the test, the Environmental Programs Division (EPD) will notify the homeowner within two business days of the results.

How often should I have my home tested?

There is no recommended frequency for radon testing, but the EPA suggests testing if your home has not been tested to your knowledge or you have recently renovated or altered your home since the last test.

What do I do if radon in my home exceeds the EPA actionable level?

Nearly 1 out of 15 homes exceed the recommended actionable level according to EPA. The EPA says, “most home can be fixed for about the same cost as other common home repairs.” If your test results exceed the recommended actionable level, the General Assistance Program (GAP) can provide you with informational resources.

Where can I find more information?

If you have any questions, concerns, or would like to schedule a radon test for your home, please contact the Environmental Programs Division GAP Manager, Alexandra Ratcliff at 970-563-2256 or email aratcliff@southernute-nsn.gov.

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