Garfield County tests its employee workspaces for radon

January is National Radon Action Month

January 20, 2016

GARFIELD COUNTY, CO – In conjunction with National Radon Action Month, and to assure health and safety of employees, Garfield County is conducting testing of its employee workplaces for radon. The county Public Health and Public Works & Facilities departments are implementing a plan to conduct radon tests between January and March of 2016. These tests are to protect the health and safety of building occupants, and to educate county employees and the public on the risks of radon and steps they can take to reduce their risks at home.

Radon is the leading cause of lung cancer in non-smokers, causing an estimated 20,000 deaths nationwide each year. Colorado is considered a high risk zone for radon statewide, and over 40% of homes in Garfield County have elevated levels. Radon is a radioactive gas that is naturally occurring, and is derived from uranium in the soil. It is found in low concentrations in the outdoor air, and when it accumulates inside buildings, it can become a health risk.

Winter months are the best time to test for radon, as radon levels are most elevated during this time. Low pressure created by heated buildings can cause air from the soil to be actively sucked inside and closed doors and windows traps the air.

Garfield County will begin testing during January and February. Any county buildings that test with levels above current Environmental Protection Agency recommended action limits will be mitigated for radon.

Mitigation is relatively simple, particularly with buildings that have central forced-air heating and cooling systems. Changes can be made to intake and exhaust airflow that can decrease the pull of soil gas into the building. Buildings like single-family homes are typically mitigated through active soil depressurization in which air is actively sucked from underneath the home or office by a fan.

Garfield County’s Public Health department has staff certified in radon measurement who will conduct the testing according to the protocols outlined by the National Radon Proficiency Program. Strict quality assurance and quality control procedures will be followed throughout the process.

Garfield County has offered free radon test kits to area residents and conducted educational campaigns about the health risks of radon since 2010. Public Health staff is distributing the free kits at the Glenwood Springs Public Health department at 2014 Blake Avenue, and the Health and Human Services building at 195 West 14th Street in Rifle, as well as at the 3rd Street Center in Carbondale.

“Testing is easy, and a critical step in reducing cancer risk,” says Morgan Hill, environmental health specialist III in Public Health. “We actively seek to get these kits distributed to the community for the safety of our residents.”