Free radon classes and test kits offered through Extension


January is Radon Awareness Month.

Radon can be a problem in most counties in Colorado, including Archuleta County. Homeowners should be aware of the risk, test their homes for high levels and mitigate the problem, if needed.

Colorado State University (CSU) Extension is offering two free classes on the effects of radon and offering free radon test kits while supplies last.

Class dates and times are: Jan. 24 from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. and Feb. 15 from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. The Extension office is located at the Archuleta County Fairgrounds on U.S. 84. Registration is required by calling 264-5931.

The following information was taken from Fact Sheet No. 9.953, “Preventing Radon Problems in the Home,” written by J.R. Tremblay Jr. of CSU.

Surveys show that homes in most Colorado counties have the potential for radon levels above the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) recommended action level.

Radon has been identified as a risk factor in developing lung cancer because it decays into radioactive particles that can get trapped in the lungs. These particles release bursts of energy that damages lung tissue and it is estimated that radon may be associated with about 21,100 lung cancer deaths per year in the United States.

Radon is a colorless, odorless, radioactive gas emitted from uranium, a naturally occurring mineral in rocks and soil. Normally, radon rises up through the soil and dissipates in the air outside. Radon becomes a concern, however, when it seeps through openings such as cracks, loose-fitting pipes, sump pits, dirt floors, slab joints or block walls and accumulates in the home. Because radon levels are influenced by a variety of factors — soil type and moisture, how tight the home is, type of heating and ventilation system, movement of air and groundwater, air pressure, and lifestyle behavior of the occupants — the only way to know if a home has elevated levels of radon is to test it.

Radon testing and mitigation

All homes in Colorado should be tested for radon and only individual testing can determine which houses may have a radon problem. You cannot base your radon level on a neighbor’s test result as every home is different. If tests show higher than acceptable levels of radon in the home, mitigation is needed.

The cost of repairs to reduce radon depends on how the home was built and the extent of the problem. Most homes can be fixed for $800 to $2,500. A variety of methods may be used to lower radon levels in a home including sub-slab, drain tile, sump hole and block wall suction. Sealing cracks and other openings in the foundation and covering sump pump holes are basic approaches to radon reduction; however, sealing alone is not proven to significantly or consistently lower radon levels.

Radon resistance and new construction

Radon reduction methods can be planned for and installed during new home construction. The average cost to install a radon system during home construction is approximately $350 to $500, versus $1,200 after the home is built. New homes constructed with high levels of radon should include:

• A passive sub-slab or crawlspace depressurization system.

• Foundation barrier techniques such as a layer of gas-permeable material under the foundation (usually 4 inches of gravel), plastic sheeting over that material, and sealing and caulking of all openings in the concrete foundation floor or floor above.

• Dedicated intake and/or combustion air for exhaust and combustion appliances.

• Installation of a gas-tight 3- or 4-inch pipe that runs from under the foundation (under the sheeting covering the soil in crawlspaces) through the house to the roof.

• A roughed-in electrical junction box for future installation of a fan, if needed.

• Homes should be tested after occupation and if radon levels remain above 4 pCi/L, the passive sub-slab system should be converted to an active system by adding a fan.

CPR and first aid classes

CPR and first aid certification classes are now being offered monthly by the CSU Extension office on the second Monday and Wednesday of each month from 6 to 10 p.m. Anyone needing to receive or renew certification can register by calling the Extension office at 264-5931.

We will also attempt to schedule classes on additional dates with five or more registrations. Cost for the classes is $80 for combined CPR/first aid and $55 for CPR, first aid or recertification. The type of first aid information provided will vary by the needs of the audience.