Radon is an odorless, colorless, and radioactive gas that forms through the natural breaking down of uranium in soil, water and rocks. The gas escapes from the ground through cracks and other holes in your home’s foundation. Your home traps the gas and with time, it builds up in plenty and can have adverse effects on those breathing it. Radon gas is said to decay into radioactive particles that can get trapped in the lungs leading to lung tissue damage and potential lung cancer.
Colorado is known as Zone 1 when it comes to the presence of high radon gas levels. Nearly 73% (that is every 3 out of 4 homes) of all homes in Colorado have high levels of the gas. The EPA recommended action level is 4 pCi (picocuries) of radon per one liter of air, meaning that any level higher than that requires mitigation.
Here are several counties in Colorado with the highest radon levels and reasons why they have plenty of it;
These are the counties that bear the highest recorded average radon levels. Particularly, the Pikes Peak region is the most affected area within Colorado as it has high levels of the noxious gas. The counties in this list generally give an average indoor radon screening level of more than 4pCi/L. They include;
Clear Creek County
El Paso County
Kit Carson County
Las Animas County
San Miguel County
Reasons for high radon levels in the above Colorado counties
As said earlier, radon is naturally occurring. It is a byproduct of decomposing uranium, a metal commonly found in the ground across many areas of Colorado, mostly in trace amounts. The presence of this metal in most of the counties is the sole reason for high recorded levels of radon gas. When the uranium in the ground decomposes, it releases radon gas as a by-product. The gas then escapes from the ground and into the open air as well as house’s indoors.
The Pikes Peak granite has unusually large concentrations of uranium. However, it is hardly enough to be mined and therefore it being left there contributes largely to the heavy presence of radon gas in the area.
“The geological makeup of the entire Colorado state includes huge deposits of granite and naturally occurring uranium, making it a perfect breeding ground for radon,” says Katherine Lemon, a public information specialist working with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment’s Hazardous Materials division.
Additionally, most of Colorado’s deep wells have been found to have high levels of dissolved radon, contributing greatly to cases of stomach cancer as a result of contaminated water ingestion.
During the cold months, the potential for high radon gas levels reaches its maximum because windows and doors are locked tight to keep out the winter’s chill. Make sure to test your house for radon levels especially in this season and have mitigation done if the levels are above the acceptable level.
Very Informative Article!! Radon Gas is not something that should be ignored, living with radon exposure for a long time can cause health issues and can lead to harmful health problems, Proper radon system should be installed in homes to take care of this gas and testing should be done to protect our loved ones.
When purchasing or selling a home in Colorado, in the high radon known counties, have it written as a law to conduct radon testing before they sell or purchase?
If it is so bad why don’t they do something when they build new houses?
Great question! We are happy to see more and more Colorado municipalities requiring radon-resistant construction in new homes. Hopefully soon it will be required across the board.