Program: Mitch Brown, Sr. Environmental Health Specialist
Radon in Jefferson County Homes
Our speaker was Mitch Brown, an environmental health specialist with Jefferson County Department of Health.  January was Radon action month and there was a concerted effort to get homeowners to test their homes for Radon.
Radon is a decay product of the natural uranium that occurs in the rocks below our feet.  It is just one of the steps that uranium goes through to eventually become lead.  It is the second leading cause of lung cancer in non-smokers.  The risk of dying from lung cancer due to radon is about the same as the risk of dying in a car accident.  For smokers, that risk is increased 5 times.
Colorado is located in the zone with the highest levels of radon on the EPA map.  In Jefferson County the average level of radon is 7 pico-curies/liter, 4 pico-curies/ liter is considered the level at which action should be taken. There are several ways to test for radon, using both short-term and long-term means.
Short-term testing is the most commonly used form of testing.  A test kit can be obtained from Jefferson county for $10 which includes the analysis.  Kits can also be purchased at Home Depot, but the analysis is a separate fee.  Types of short term test kits are:
  1. Activated charcoal-this uses activated charcoal as it absorbs radon and is the test kit used by Jefferson County.
  2. Alpha track-This method uses a piece of foil and tracks the alpha particles being released.  The particles make streaks across the foil. 
  3. Electric Ion Chamber-this is essentially a combination of activated charcoal and alpha track.
Long term testing also uses alpha track and electric ion chamber but the testing requires 90 days and is monitored continuously.  
It is recommended that homeowners test for radon every 2-3 years because soil shifts and rock formations change.  Radon is heavier than air and it tends to settle in the lower levels of our homes.   So, it is recommended that the test kit be placed in the lowest level of the home.  If there are elevated levels of radon in the upper part of the home, it is most likely due to the radon in the water. 
Homeowners should test for radon before selling.  When we are selling our home, we are required to disclose if we know a hazard exists, however, the seller is not required to disclose what that hazard is.  It becomes an issue of ethics.  We should also test anytime we are making repairs or renovations.  Home buyers should ask about radon testing and when it was last done, as well as who did it.
Mitigation works!  It consists basically of drawing the air out from under the home and releasing it outside.  There are several methods used to accomplish this.  More information is available at the CPHE website, search “radon”.  They also have a list of certified contractors that install radon mitigation systems.
  • The club social last Wednesday was a great success.  Thank you Suzanne for making the arrangements.
  • Lesley Landon will be the new club Secretary.
  • Board meeting will be February 26 as February 19 is President’s Day
  • RI Foundation update  If you have not made a donation to RI, we are encouraged to do so in order to meet our goal.
  • St. Patrick’s day  We will be having our dinner at St. Lawrence on Saturday March 17, 2018.  The menu has been changed and will consist of Irish stew, soda bread and dessert.  We are also planning to have silly/fun games for people to play and we will still have the silent auction.  Liquor license has been obtained.
  • Finn encouraged us to attend other Rotary meetings.
  • Visioning meeting at Hugh’s house Feb 7 at 5:30.