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Radon Health Risks

Radon comes from the natural radioactive breakdown of uranium in soil, rock, and water. It is an invisible, odorless, tasteless, cancer-causing gas that enters buildings through the numerous cracks, holes, and pipes in the foundation. It can also enter a building from well water.

Radon can be found in any building, but homes are the most concerning since that’s where families spend the most time.

Radon is Prevalent in Boulder County

Radon is prevalent in Colorado and in Boulder County. One out of every two homes in Boulder County has elevated radon levels. The EPA has ranked Boulder County as "Zone 1," which means the average house will likely exceed the EPA's action level of 4.0 pCi/L.

Radon Can Cause Cancer

Radon breaks down into radioactive particles that can cause cancer when inhaled. These radioactive particles can damage the cells in our lungs and increase the risk of lung cancer.

Radon is the leading cause of lung cancer among non-smokers. It is estimated to cause about 21,000 lung cancer deaths per year and about $2 billion in medical expenses and lost productivity. The Iowa Radon Lung Cancer Study tracked nearly 1,000 women who had lived in their homes more than 20 years. The results of the case-control study (after adjusting for age, smoking, and other factors) indicated that a 20-year exposure of radon levels at the EPA guideline of 4.0 pCi/L yielded an increased lung cancer risk of 50%.

radon alpha particles

This picture shows a plastic chip from a passive radon test. This piece of plastic is magnified only 100 times and shows damage to the plastic as a result of exposure to radioactive particles from radon after just 3 months exposure at 4 pCi/L Imagine if the radioactive particles can damage or pit plastic what it can do to the soft cell tissue of your lungs.

Radon & Smoking Produce a Synergistic Effect

Smokers exposed to high concentrations of radon have even a greater risk of developing lung cancer than being exposed to either substance individually. The risk of lung cancer from radon gas is estimated to be approximately 10 -15 times greater for persons who smoke cigarettes in comparison with those who have never smoked. Get help quitting tobacco.

 Related Links


Contacts

Air Quality Program

Main: 303-441-1564
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www.BoulderCountyAir.org

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