In April of 2014, the Colorado Department of Health and Environment reviewed average radon gas levels throughout the state, prompting the move of 12 moderate risk counties to high risk, confirming the importance of testing indoor environments for the cancer-causing contaminant.
During the cold weather months, the potential for high radon gas levels reaches even further into the danger zone, as windows and doors are closed up tightly to keep out winter’s chill.
Additionally, Colorado’s deep wells have been found to contain high levels of dissolved radon, contributing slightly to an elevated air level, but also increasing the possibility of stomach cancer from ingestion of contaminated water. Maximum contaminant levels have yet to be established for public water supplies, but the EPA has proposed numbers between 300 and 4,000 picocuries per liter as a maximum. Colorado well water regularly exceeds those levels Note that the levels in water must be much higher, rated at 1:10,000, to raise the air level reading.
Radon gas is an odorless, colorless gas found all around the world, but in particularly high levels in the Rocky Mountain state of Colorado. A product of the decay of radioactive uranium deposits in rock, soil, and water, the gas is known to cause lung cancer in those who have been exposed to contaminated air over long periods of time.
For Coloradans, the effects of radon gas are responsible for between 400 to 1400 deaths each year. To assist in mitigation, the department suggests testing and regular monitoring to keep abreast of shifting soil, weather, and environmental changes. Testing is best accomplished in the fall and winter, as windows must be kept closed, and fans and air conditioning equipment turned off, with minimal use of doors.
If indicated after testing, mitigation efforts can be successful, reducing the level by 99 percent. For more information, go to https://www.colorado.gov/cdphe/categories/services-and-information/environment/radon.