By Mekialaya White

DENVER (CBS4) – Throughout the month of January, health experts are urging Coloradans to be aware of the effects of radon in homes, and they’re giving out test kits for free.

Tri-County Health Environmental Health Specialist Kayla Lesperance says education, especially in our state, is critical.

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“It got started by the EPA as a way to just get radon on people’s radar,” she told CBS4’s Mekialaya White via Zoom, referring to the Environmental Protection Agency. “We are in Zone One for EPA radon risk.”

To give some perspective, that means roughly 50% of homes have high radon levels. “That’s over the four picCuries per Liter limit. Once they’re over that limit, we want people to get their houses mitigated,” said Lesperance.

Radon is an invisible, colorless, and odorless radioactive gas that’s created as natural deposits break down from soil, rock, and water. It can be detrimental over time, as it’s the second leading cause of lung cancer in the U.S.

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“We’re close to the Rocky Mountains, so we have a lot of uranium in the soil and radon is actually a derivative of uranium, so it’s a sister particle,” Lesperance explained. “Really the effects of radon accumulate over the course of, say, 30 years. Those effects, you won’t see them for a great amount of time. It’s kind of like the exposure you get from the sun. You don’t get cancers right away, but over the course of never wearing sunscreen or getting a really severe burn, you may get some type of melanoma, but you may not. Radon is that same type of exposure.”

Lesperance says the number one way to combat radon is by simply testing your home. “I’ve seen homes with incredibly high limits. Even in urban areas. It’s not just a problem in rural communities or in the mountains. It is a problem everywhere in Colorado. You never know what’s really deep under your house in the bedrock.”

Tri-County Health Department has free and discounted tests for residents in need. If you feel like you may be eligible for a no-cost test, visit tchd.org/630/Radon to apply.

Lesperance also encourages anyone who has radon-related questions to email the department directly at radon@tchd.org.

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If you live in Colorado and you’re outside the Tri-County Area, visit cdphe.colorado.gov/radon get more information about getting a test kit from the State of Colorado.

Mekialaya White