SM County: Radon Testing Encouraged To Ensure Healthy Homes!

San Miguel County puts out the word: Free radon detector available through Public Health.

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As the winter season sets in and windows and doors remain closed, radon levels can increase in homes of all types due to decreased air circulation. Public Health encourages homeowners and renters alike to test for radon, a naturally occurring radioactive gas that comes from the breakdown of uranium in soil beneath a person’s home.

Radon is colorless, odorless, and tasteless gas estimated to cause about 21,000 lung cancer deaths per year in the United States. According to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE), about half the homes in Colorado have radon levels higher than the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommended action level.

When a person is exposed to radon over many years, the exposure can increase the risk of lung cancer. In fact, radon is the second-leading cause of lung cancer in the United States after smoking tobacco. The combination of smoking and exposure to radon creates a greater risk of lung cancer than either factor alone.

“In general, as we move inside, it’s a good time to check your household safety equipment and ensure your home is encouraging healthy living,” said Public Health Director Grace Franklin. “Checking equipment like carbon monoxide detectors, changing batteries in smoke detectors and monitoring for radon can ensure the long-term health and safety of everyone in the home.”

San Miguel County Public Health’s Environmental Health Department has one radon detector that can be borrowed free of charge. The recommended test period with the detector should be about 48 hours and should take place in the lowest level of living space away from outer openings and ventilation with doors and windows closet. The detector will then display the results on the digital screen. It can then be connected to a printer to produce a hard copy of results.

The County’s Building Department implemented radon testing for new construction in the last eight years and, while all homes should be tested, older homes and residences are at greater risk of radon exposure.

To check out the monitor, please email Chris Smith at

Radon test kits can also be purchased at most hardware stores.

If a radon problem is found, visit the CDPHE website for next steps or reach out to a landlord if renting. If a residence with high radon levels uses a private well for water, the water should be tested for radon as well, as the primary health risk of radon in drinking water is stomach cancer.

For those in need of financial assistance to reduce radon levels in a home, please visit the CDPHE financial assistance page.

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