The Colorado Cancer Plan Sets Ambitious Targets for Radon Awareness

Cancer Plan Cover

THE SILENT KILLER: RADON IN COLORADO

After smoking, radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States. Radon is a colorless, odorless gas that comes from the natural breakdown of uranium in soil, rock and water. The geological makeup of Colorado puts all 64 counties at high risk for radon exposure.

“It’s very important for people to test their home,” states Chrystine Kelley, Radon Program Manager at the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE).

A CDPHE study found that 72 percent of Coloradans were aware of the dangers of radon, but only 42 percent have tested their homes. State radon testing data show that about half of Colorado homes have radon levels above the recommended action limit of 4 picocuries per liter (pCi/L) of air.

There is no known safe level of radon and testing is the only way to know whether it is in your home at a dangerous level. Merely opening a window will not remove radon from the home; a mitigation system should be installed. If you have radon in your home and you smoke, your risk for lung cancer is significantly higher than it is from either being exposed to radon or smoking alone.

Seventeen cities and nine counties require new homes be built with radon-resistant features. “Even these homes,” says Patricia Dooley-Strappelli of Boulder County Public Health, “should be tested every few years to make sure the system is working properly.”
Colorado residents can call the state’s 24-hour Radon Hotline at 1-800-846-3986 for more information.

Goal 4 in the Colorado Radon Plan is "Decreased Environmental Exposures that lead to Cancer" and Objective 4.1 is to "Increase knowledge and community infrastructure to decrease exposure to radon."

STRATEGIES:
1. Educate the Colorado public, home owners, building owners, sellers, Realtors and policymakers about radon and its risk for lung cancer.
2. Educate builders, code officials, city councils and county commissioners on radon facts, health effects and implementation of radon-resistant features in new construction.
3. Promote environmental equity through radon testing and mitigation programs and outreach efforts directed at minority or indigent populations.
4. Engage and educate Realtors, homebuyers and sellers on the importance of radon testing and information disclosure during real estate transactions.

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