- Environmental Health
- Air Quality
- Indoor Air Quality
Indoor Air Quality
The quality of indoor air is important not only for comfort but also for health. Poor indoor air quality (IAQ) has been tied to symptoms like headaches, fatigue, trouble concentrating, and irritation of the eyes, nose, throat and lungs. Also, some specific diseases have been linked to specific air contaminants or indoor environments. In addition, some exposures, such as asbestos and radon, do not cause immediate symptoms but can lead to cancer many years later.
High levels of radon have been found in all 50 states and in all parts of Colorado. In Colorado, about half of homes have radon levels higher than the United States Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) recommended action level.
• What is radon?
Radon is a radioactive cancer-causing gas that forms when radioactive metals (such as uranium) break down in rocks, soil, and groundwater. You cannot see it, taste it, or smell it and radon does not cause any short-term symptoms of illness. People can be exposed from breathing radon in the air that enters buildings through cracks, spaces, and gaps that may be present. Since radon is heavier than air, levels are often highest in the lowest part of a home or building, however, in a house with forced air heating it can easily be distributed throughout the entire dwelling.
• Why is this important?
According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), it is estimated that radon in indoor air is linked to about 21,000 lung cancer deaths in the United States each year and is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the nation.
• What can I do about it?
The only way to know the radon level in your home is to test. There are low-cost test kits available to test radon levels within your home as well as Certified Radon Measurement and Mitigation Contractors in the state of Colorado. There are solutions for high radon levels in your home if you find levels higher than the recommended action level of 4 pCi/L. In this case, talking with a qualified mitigation contractor is a great place to start. There may be instances when it is recommended you retest your home. To learn more about when to retest please visit the link below
How often should I test/retest my home for radon? | US EPA
Please visit the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment’s website for more information on radon testing, reducing radon in your home, and for a link to order discounted radon test kits to be shipped to your home.
Testing and mitigating your home for radon | Department of Public Health & Environment (colorado.gov)
Mold growth can occur in any indoor space and is often caused by numerous issues including but not limited to heating, ventilating and air conditioning, water intrusion (flooding, roof leaks, and plumbing issues), improper maintenance, and exposure to weather.
Asbestos is a group of six naturally occurring minerals made up of heat-resistant fibers. It was used in thousands of U.S. consumer products before the dangers of asbestos were known. Asbestos can cause mesothelioma, lung cancer and other cancers. Asbestos is regulated in the U.S., but not banned.
Resources & Sources of Information:
• Indoor Air Quality
EPA Information on Indoor Air Quality
Indoor Air Quality - Overview | Occupational Safety and Health Administration (osha.gov)
Understanding radon | Department of Public Health & Environment (colorado.gov)
Insert existing links from EH website under Air Quality
Asbestos | Department of Public Health & Environment (colorado.gov)
Asbestos - Overview | Occupational Safety and Health Administration (osha.gov)