Colorado residents exposed to high levels of radon

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photo: radonNew data released earlier this week by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment reports the status of 12 counties were changed from moderate risk to high risk, meaning that all 64 counties in Colorado are now considered at high risk for radon.

“It’s colorless, tasteless and odorless," Hazardous Materials and Waste Management Division spokesperson Kate Lemon says. "So, if it’s built up in your home over 30 years of your living [there], and you’re exposed to it, it can cause some serious issues."

The U.S. Surgeon General has warned that radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States and the leading cause among non-smokers. Kate Lemon says prolonged exposure to radon causes about 500 deaths in Colorado every year.

The state is encouraging residents to test their homes for radon using a kit that costs about $20. If levels are high, the EPA recommends that homeowners install a device that helps ventilate the home and push radon outside.

The counties upgraded to high risk in the latest report are: Alamosa, Archuleta, Conejos, Costilla, Eagle, Hinsdale, La Plata, Mineral, Rio Grande, Routt, Saguache and San Juan.

Radon occurs naturally from decaying uranium in soil and is abundant throughout the Rocky Mountains.