DENVER (CBS4)– One in two homes in Colorado has dangerous levels of radon and the companies that test and mitigate for it in the state don’t have to meet any state standards. Colorado doesn’t regulate the industry despite radon being the leading cause of lung cancer. There’s now a push by some lawmakers to require radon companies be licensed.
The colorless odorless gas seeps into a home through cracks in the foundation and many people don’t find out it’s there until it’s too late. The Environmental Protection Agency recommends testing homes every two years.
Lisa Moran says radon is most likely what caused her to develop stage four lung cancer. She says she was at the top of her physical game before her diagnosis in 2015. She says she climbed the Manitou Incline — one of the most challenging trails in the country — without breaking a sweat.
“But I kept having to stop every couple steps to catch my breath.”
She was 44 years old, a nonsmoker, and had no family history of lung cancer. Her only symptom was a persistent cough.
“The diagnosis is a shock but then to find out that it has spread throughout your body and I had absolutely no idea.”
The only way to find radon is to test for it but companies aren’t required to have training or insurance in Colorado. Crystal Lytle — a national expert in the radon industry — says she sees flawed tests and faulty mitigation systems all the time here.
“When you put in an improperly installed system, it can actually make your radon levels go higher.”
State Rep. Dafna Michaelson Jenet says the best way to ensure companies know what they’re doing is to license them.
“Licensure really protects the homeowner from being wronged in a situation that is a life or death situation.”
Moran was given a 5% chance of living 5 years, “And I celebrated 5 years in August 2020 so I’m beating the odds every day.”
She’s using that time to warn others about the risk of radon and an unregulated industry, “People don’t think about it, it’s not on anyone’s radar and it needs to be.”
Right now, many companies advertise that they are certified, but standards vary wildly. If the bill passes, anyone caught practicing in the radon industry without a license could be charged with a misdemeanor. Some lawmakers say the bill goes too far.
It has bipartisan support and opposition and has passed two committees but still has a long way to go.