January is Radon Awareness Month


Data shows that homes in most Colorado counties have the potential for radon levels above the Environmental Protection Agency’s 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 damage 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 lifestyles behavior of the occupants — the only way to know if a home has elevated levels of radon is to test it.
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.
Free presentations about radon detection and mitigation will be offered at the CSU Extension office in Pagosa Springs on Jan. 17 at 6 p.m. and again on Jan. 29 at 10 a.m. To reserve your space at a presentation, call the San Juan Basin Public Health at 335-2030.
For more information on radon, testing, mitigation and resources, visit the CSU Extension website at www.ext.colostate.edu and download Fact Sheet No. 9.953, “Preventing Radon Problems in the Home.”
Disaster preparedness class
The Extension office is offering a disaster preparedness class for youth ages 13-19. This is a comprehensive 21-hour course that educates youth on how to prepare for a disaster and help others in with their planning.
This is a free course, but the youth must commit to the full 21 hours and helping seven families with their communication and disaster planning.
Please call Robin Young for more information. Go to our Facebook page, CSU Extension-Archuleta County, and download the application or come by the Extension office to pick one up.
Annie’s Project
Annie’s Project is an educational program dedicated to strengthening women’s roles in modern farm and ranch enterprises. The mission is to empower farm and ranch women to be better business partners through networks and by managing and organizing critical information.
The cost is $75 and will be held from Feb. 28 to March 2. Materials and meals will be provided. Please come by the Extension office to pick up an application or visit the Facebook page, CSU Extension-Archuleta County, to download. Applications are due on Feb. 15.
CPR and first aid classes
CPR and first aid certification classes are 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.