Prowers County Public Health and Environment (PCPHE) is working with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) in a nationwide campaign to educate Americans about the dangers of radon exposure and to encourage them to take action to protect their homes and families.
In our community, PCPHE has free in home test kits available, throughout the year.
Radon is a naturally occurring, invisible, odorless, tasteless gas that is dispersed in outdoor air, but which can reach harmful levels when trapped in buildings. Scientists have long been concerned about the health risk of radon, but never before has there been such overwhelming proof that exposure to elevated levels of radon causes lung cancer in humans.
Colorado students are invited to put their creative talents to work promoting awareness of radon, an odorless, colorless radioactive gas that is the second leading cause of lung cancer.
Kansas State University, in partnership with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, is sponsoring a radon poster contest for children ages 9-14 enrolled in a public, private, territorial, tribal, Department of Defense or home school. Members of a sponsoring club, such as a scouting organization or art, computer, science or 4-H club also are eligible. There is no entry fee, and only one entry per student is allowed. The entry deadline is Oct. 31, 2011.
Poster topics must include one of the following subjects:
- What is radon?
- Where does radon come from?
- How does radon get into our homes?
- Radon can cause lung cancer.
- Test your home for radon.
Survey Shows Nearly 75 Percent of Coloradans Aware of Radon Dangers, but Less Than 35 Percent Test Their Homes
DENVER – A study recently released by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment shows that 73 percent of Coloradans surveyed know about radon, an odorless, colorless radioactive gas that is the leading cause of lung cancer in non-smokers and the No. 2 cause of lung cancer overall. The survey also showed that only 34 percent of respondents had tested their homes for the gas, which originates from the decay of naturally occurring uranium in the soil. Harmless when it disperses in the air, radon is dangerous when it collects in homes.
“It’s encouraging that so many people are aware of radon, because most Colorado counties are at high risk for it,” said Chrystine Kelley, radon program manager in the Hazardous Materials and Waste Management Division of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. “The best way to protect your family is to test your home, and we recommend that every Colorado home be tested.”
As many as half the schools in Colorado may be out of compliance with a 1991 state law that required them to test radon levels in their buildings and keep documentation of those tests on file.
A survey of each of the state’s 2,274 K-12 schools – sent out by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment in 2009 and still not completed by all of them – found that most schools likely did the testing, and that most of those who found elevated levels of the cancer-causing gas did take steps to fix the problem.
But many did not. More than 300 acknowledge they never completed the testing. And many others lack the documentation to prove they did – nor can they show whether any remediation steps they took were adequate at the time and remain adequate today.
DENVER - It is the leading cause of lung cancer for non-smokers: radon. And the gas is more likely to be found in Colorado than in many other parts of the country.
"Colorado is a highly mineralized state," Warren Smith of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) said. "So uranium occurs naturally in our soil and as it breaks down, it can become radon gas, which can percolate up to the soil and collect in your home."
Three years ago, siblings 12-year-old Christina and 11-year-old Eric Bear had never even heard of the dangers of radon. Now, after winning two state poster contests, they are expert educators trying to spread the word.
"We don't think many people know about radon. That's why we're trying to do the awareness project," Eric said.
The children travel across the state and have created their own website: www.radondetecttoprotect.info.
We are eager to hear about the successful outreach conducted through the Radon Tee: World Trek 2010! To share your Radon Tee: World Trek 2010 story and inspire others, visit www.radonleaders.org/radontee/share and tell us about your experience. The stories we receive may be featured here in the RadonLeaders.org InFocus.
The following narrative tells the story of classmates Cristine Solomon and Diane Dougherty, nursing students in Aurora, Colorado, who were inspired to educate the public about the potential health risk presented by radon exposure.
CANON CITY — To test or not to test, that is the question not easily answered when it comes to the Cotter Corp. uranium mill.
Environment Colorado and Colorado Citizens Against Toxic Waste accuse Cotter of "blatantly defying agency orders and regulations" by refusing to conduct radon testing at the mill's soon-to-be-closed secondary impoundment.
Cotter officials say they do not have to do radon flux testing because the impoundment is no longer operational.
"Our impoundment is in reclamation, which means we no longer have to test for radon flux emissions" at the secondary impoundment site, said John Hamrick, mill manager.
"Cotter is playing political football with our health by refusing to test for the rate of radon pollution entering our community," said Sharyn Cunningham of Colorado Citizens Against Toxic Waste.
DEL NORTE— Rio Grande County Commissioners heard from Pat Perry, Director of Rio Grande’s Public Health Agency, during their Sept. 15 meeting concerning losses of flu and MMR vaccine supplies.
Due to a power outage in the office, the agency lost 40 doses of the MMR vaccine and 30 doses of flu-mist nasal spray. “The loss represented about $1,815. We’ve already discarded the affected vaccines and will be replacing them.” Perry said.
Public Health stores between $15,000-$30,000 worth of vaccines in agency refrigerators at any given time. With an outage so potentially costly, Perry remarked, the agency would need to take “corrective action.”
An agreement reached between the Environmental Protection Agency and plaintiffs in a lawsuit could result in stronger limits on radon emissions from uranium mills, including a proposed operation near Naturita, between Durango and Grand Junction.
Colorado Citizens Against ToxicWaste, representing concerned residents living near the Cotter mill in Cañon City, and WildEarth Guardians filed the suit in 2008, according to a news release from the Cañon City group.
The lawsuit and settlement were reached with the help of the Energy Minerals Law Center, a Durango-based nonprofit.
Travis Stills, an attorney with the law center, said in a phone interview Sunday that the settlement compels the EPA to revisit its limits on the radioactive gas, which haven't been reviewed or changed in 20 years.
It’s not always true that what you don’t know can’t hurt you. Radon is a tasteless, odorless, invisible gas that comes from the natural radioactive breakdown of uranium in soil, rock, and water. When breathed regularly over time, it can erode pulmonary health. In fact, radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer in America, responsible for approximately 21,000 deaths per year (that’s more than drunk driving.)
Even though the EPA recommends home testing once every two years, few homeowners are aware of the risk and fewer still bother to take steps to safeguard against radon exposure.
That’s especially unfortunate in Telluride and the surrounding areas, as southwestern Colorado is rated at the highest threat level on the EPA’s books.