National Radon Action Month: Health depts. encourage people to test homes for radon

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KKTV) - January is known as Radon Action Month across the country, and local health departments are encouraging homeowners to test their houses for radon gas.

“It’s odorless and colorless,” said Marla Luckey, El Paso County Public Health’s environmental health program manager. “You can’t smell it or taste it, so it’s good to be aware that radon could be trapped in your home because it is the leading cause of lung cancer among people who have never smoked.”

According to the state health department, about 500 people in Colorado die each year because of lung cancer linked to radon. Across the country, radon claims the lives of about 21,000 people each year.

“It can be widely spread anywhere,” Luckey said.

The Environmental Protection Agency said El Paso County and the state of Colorado have a potential for high radon levels.

The state health department is offering free and discounted radon test kits, while supplies lasts. Luckey said it’s important for all homeowners to test the lowest level of their homes where they spend the most time.

“Radon can be present in high levels in any home across the county, whether it’s old or new,” she said. “So the only way to know is to test your home individually.”

Radon is caused by the breakdown of uranium, which is found in soil. It can seep into people’s basements and lower levels through cracks and small openings in foundations.

“Radon exposure is also cumulative across different places and homes that you’ve lived in across your life,” Luckey said. “So even if you’ve moved, you may have had a long time life exposure. So it’s a long-term risk of exposure.”

If your home does have high levels of radon, there are mitigation systems that can be installed to reduce the level of radon inside your home. You can find certified contractors here.