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Radon

Testing and Mitigation

radon test kit

Short-Term Test Kit

 

The City of Fort Collins sells discounted short-term ($6) and long-term ($20) radon test kits and are available for purchase at the Fort Collins Senior Center (1200 Raintree Drive).  If you reside outside the City limits you can order a  radon test kit from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.

Radon test kits are very time-sensitive and must be processed by the lab within 8 days after the test kit is sealed up.  Failure to follow the instructions can cause the lab to invalidate the results.  Be sure to carefully read and follow the instructions that come with the test kit.

More Information On Testing and Mitigation


Health Risks From Radon Exposure

Radon lungs

Lung Cancer

 

Radon is a gas that when inhaled into your lungs, decomposes into radioactive decay products that cause damage to your lungs and can lead to cancer.  It is estimated that up to 21,000 deaths occur every year in the U.S. from lung cancer caused by radon.   After smoking, it is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States.

More Information About Radon and Lung Cancer


Radon Explained

Radon symbol from periodic table

Radon in the Periodic Table of Elements

 

Radon is an invisible, odorless, radioactive gas created during the natural decay of uranium in the soil. Radon is everywhere, and Colorado has higher concentrations than other regions. Radon gas is drawn into homes through cracks and openings in basements, crawl spaces and slabs. Radon levels vary from house to house and are dependent on a number of factors including the age, quality and upkeep of the home.

More Information and Technical Details


Radon Resources and Policy

There is a vast amount of information related to radon.   Take a look at the Frequently Asked Questions below or browse through the links on our resources page.

Go To the Resources Page


Frequently Asked Questions

Why is radon a concern?

Radon gas has been shown to cause lung cancer in people who are exposed to elevated levels over a long period of time. The US Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA) recommends radon reduction if your home level exceeds 4 picocuries per liter of air (pCi/L). If you smoke and your home has an elevated radon level, your risk for lung cancer is especially high. Test for radon in your home! Radon is easy to test and easy to fix.


What are radon levels in Fort Collins?

Thousands of Fort Collins homes have been tested for radon by individual homeowners and private radon testers. Test results indicate that over half of all Fort Collins homes tested have radon levels of 4 pCi/L or above. But don't let these numbers scare you away from Colorado! Radon is a problem that can be fixed.


Is radon causing me to be sick?

Probably not.  There are currently no known symptoms of short-term exposure to radon at the levels typically found in homes.  It takes years of exposure at relatively high levels,  and the known symptoms are similar to those for smoking related lung cancer.


Can radon affect my drinking water?

If you use a well for your drinking water supply, radon can also enter your home through well water. If your home has a high radon level in the air (4 pCi/L or more) and you have a well, call the Safe Drinking Water Hotline at 1-800-426-4791 or the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment at (303) 692-3090.


How do I test for radon?

Testing your home for radon is simple and inexpensive.   Here are a few options:

The City of Fort Collins sells discounted short-term ($6) and long-term ($20) radon test kits that allow you to test your own home.   Click here for details and instructions on how to use these test kits.  They are available for purchase at the Fort Collins Senior Center (1200 Raintree Drive).

Hire a professional.  The National Radon Proficiency Program maintains a list of Certified Radon Contractors in Colorado.

Sign up for a Healthy Homes Assessment. These free assessments provide a comprehensive look at factors in your home related to indoor air quality, health and safety. Each assessment includes a free short-term radon test. Visit Healthy Homes to learn more or schedule an assessment.


How do I get the results for my radon test?

The testing lab will email your results to you as soon as they process your test kit.  If you don't hear from them within a couple weeks, contact us and we can usually track down the result for you.


How accurate are the test kit results?

There are several factors that can cause radon levels to fluctuate in your home including the temperature, barometric pressure and ventilation in your home.   Short-term tests take 3-7 days and record a radon "snapshot" based on those conditions.   Long-term tests can take up to a year and give a more representative picture of the radon levels in your home over time.

Any measurement system will have variability in accuracy.  If used properly, these radon test kits provide accurate and reliable results relative to the testing conditions.


How can radon levels be reduced?

Don't be discouraged if you find elevated radon concentrations in your home! Radon problems can be prevented by installing a radon mitigation system. A plastic pipe is connected to the soil beneath a slab, basement or crawl space floor and then extended to the outside of the home, where radon gas is harmlessly exhausted into outside air. A continuously-operating fan ensures the system's effectiveness.

The National Radon Proficiency Program (NRPP) maintains a list of Certified Radon Professionals in Colorado that you can contract with to mitigate radon in your home.  Browse through our Testing & Mitigation page for details on how mitigation is done and what to expect.


Am I required to test for radon?

No, although City code does not require radon testing or mitigation, we urge everyone to test their home for radon. Fort Collins City Code requires that sellers provide a copy of the City's informational brochure to all buyers of residential property at point of sale (prior to the execution of a contract on a home). The “seller” may be a realtor, home-owner, attorney or any other person acting on behalf of the seller.

Colorado law requires that homeowners inform buyers if they are aware of a radon problem in the home they are selling. A radon problem means the home has been tested and the test indicated levels of 4 pCi/L or higher.


Do new homes require radon mitigation systems?

Yes. After January 1, 2005, all new single-family and duplex housing in Fort Collins must be equipped with a radon reduction system during construction (Fort Collins Building Code - Appendix F).  The system frequently relies on passive ventilation, thus avoiding the need for a fan, and can be concealed within the internal skeleton of the home.

Testing has shown the passive system reduces radon by half, on average. However, 35% of new homes still exceed 4 pCi/L with the required system installed. Homeowners should test for radon and, if further reduction is needed, have an in-line fan installed in the space provided. To learn more, call Fort Collins Building and Zoning at (970) 221-6760.


What should homebuyers and sellers know about radon?

When buying a home in Fort Collins, take time to test radon levels. If your dream home has high radon levels, does this mean you should walk away? Absolutely not! There are ways to effectively reduce radon levels in your future home. Of all the problems that a house can have, radon is one of the most easy to identify and fix. Radon can be reduced, either before you buy a home, or after you buy it and move in.

Appendix F of the Fort Collins Building Code requires radon-resistant new construction. All single-family homes and duplexes must be equipped with a passive radon-reduction system during construction.   Radon information is required at point-of-sale in residential real estate transactions.

70% of Fort Collins Homes Have Radon Levels above EPA Acceptable Levels! The good news is, you can test your home for radon levels and fix any problems you find.


Can I make my landlord mitigate for radon?

There is no city, county or state ordinance that requires any homeowner, including landlords to mitigate radon.  If you've tested and found high levels and your landlord refuses to mitigate for radon, Neighborhood Services offers mediation for landlord-tenant issues.  

For reference take a look at the City of Fort Collins Landlord and Tenant Information page which include links to the Landlord Tenant Handbook.


Can a tenant break a lease if the landlord refuses to mitigate?

There is no city, county or state ordinance that requires any homeowner, including landlords to mitigate radon.  If you've tested and found high levels and your landlord refuses to mitigate for radon, Neighborhood Services offers mediation for landlord-tenant issues.  

For reference take a look at the City of Fort Collins Landlord and Tenant Information page which include links to the Landlord Tenant Handbook.