GC is at a Radon Zone 1, here’s how to keep your family safe
November 25, 2016
November is Lung Cancer Awareness Month, and while many are aware that smoking is the leading cause of lung cancer, alarmingly many are unaware of the leading cause for non-smokers: Radon exposure.
The Colorado Department of Health and Environment has reported that about half of Colorado homes have radon levels higher than the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recommended action level of 4 picoCuries per liter (pCi/L). At or above 4 pCi/L, the EPA highly recommends corrective measures to reduce your exposure to radon gas.
Specifically, Grand County has been classified by the EPA as a Radon Zone 1, the highest level of radon required to take action.
What exactly is radon, and how can Grand County residents protect themselves and their families?
Radon is an invisible, odorless, tasteless gas that enters buildings through cracks in floors or walls, construction joints, or gaps in foundations around pipes, wires or pumps. The EPA estimates approximately 21,000 people in the United States die each year from lung cancer caused by radon exposer. That's more than five times the number of deaths attributed annually to carbon monoxide poisoning and house fires. Additionally, the American Cancer Society recently linked radon exposure to an increased risk for blood cancers in women.
In 2015, the Environmental Protection Agency and 11 partner organizations launched the National Radon Action Plan, aimed at reducing harmful radon levels in five million homes, apartments, schools and childcare centers nationwide, saving 3,200 lives annually by 2020. This effort is a step in the direction of creating radon-safe environments for Americans; however, homeowners can do something today to take control of their own air quality.
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For most, radon testing is a faint memory associated with the sale or purchase of a home. While many may think that the short-term kits associated with purchasing a home are sufficient for ensuring their families' wellness and safety, but due to the fluctuating nature of the poisonous gas based on location and time of year a single radon test is insufficient and will not guarantee an accurate reading. For this reason, continuous monitoring with a digital long-term testing device, such as the Corentium Home by Airthings, is essential. A short-term test provides a small "snapshot" of your home's radon levels, but running both tests simultaneously will give you quick results for peace of mind and allow you to gain accurate results as well.
To ensure your family is protected from radon exposure in a county known for its high levels, invest in long-term testing devices, place them in frequently used rooms, like a family room, basement or bedroom, and continuously monitor the devices on a month-to-month and season-to season basis. If the long-term average is above the EPA's threshold of 4 pCi/L, a professional should be called to mitigate, but if levels fall between 2 pCi/L and 4 pCi/L, solutions as simple as increasing ventilation and air flow can help.
In addition to testing your own home, alert school officials, office managers, and your friends and family on the dangers of radon exposure and the importance of long-term testing. To educate yourself more on the dangers of radon and what you can do to protect yourself, visit http://www.airthings.com/us for information.
Oyvind Birkenes is the CEO of Airthings, a Norway-based tech company that develops and manufactures products to easily monitor and identify radon levels in indoor air. The company is led by a team of experienced scientists, engineers and technology professionals who share a common goal: to educate people about the prevalence of radon and develop accessible technology solutions to help them safeguard their homes and keep themselves and their families healthy.