testing process, the home is required to be closed for a minimum of twelve hours prior to testing and remain closed throughout the course of testing with only normal exit and entry. This procedure ensures that a dynamic equilibrium is achieved creating the required testing environment. The three major ways of testing a home for radon are charcoal, continuous radon monitoring system, and electronic average system (or E-perm). Charcoal tests can vary in accuracy as the time delay in which the testing kit is closed and mailed to a testing laboratory can impact the results. Approved continuous radon monitoring systems and electronic systems have a greater accuracy rate as the results may be determined locally by a certified radon tester, and thus the mailing process does not affect the accuracy of the test results. The EPA recommends that even homes already having a mitigation system should be tested every two years to ensure proper system functions. Bryson Wise is the owner of BWise Radon in Fort Collins. For the past 10 years, his company has focused on radon testing, radon mitigation, crawl space encapsulation and indoor air quality. “In Northern Colorado, about 75% of homes have some amount of radon in them,” Wise conjectures. Wise was an insurance agent before getting into the business of radon testing and mitigation. “We are finding that radon awareness and mitigation needs mostly come up during a home transaction or inspection.” Homeowners can contact Bryson Wise for a free estimate to see if they are living in unsafe conditions. He mentions that there are both longterm and short-term test kits and it’s safe for families to be inside their homes during testing. “We believe families should do whatever in their power to take care of their health. Radon is an invisible thing and you don’t know if it’s causing health problems, but testing is the very first step.” “We’ve had many people test 15 years ago and now they are testing again. Just because you tested your home before and it wasn’t high, doesn’t mean it’s not high now. It’s important to test every couple of years, especially in Colorado,” says Wise. “However, it’s difficult to test in the summer months because people want to keep their doors and windows open.” Therefore, winter months are the best time to test for radon gas.
Ways to Mitigate Radon
Arnie Drennen shares the details of radon mitigation, the action of reducing
the severity of radon’s effects. “Mitigation is normally performed by using either subslab depressurization (SSD) in a basement/ monolithic slab or sub-membrane depressurization (SMD) in a crawlspace. An SSD system is installed by drilling a core (hole) through the slab, normally concrete, and venting with PVC pipe to the exterior above the roofline, according to current local protocols. An SMD system is installing a radon resistant barrier as airtight as possible. These two systems can also be combined. Mary Pat Aardrup is an environmental planner with the City of Fort Collins. She runs the indoor air quality programs for the City, known as the Healthy Homes, and radon programs. “The City of Fort Collins has a Healthy Homes division that provides free in-home assessments to help insure healthy air quality for its residents. Radon testing is included in the Healthy Homes assessment for free,” says Aardrup. “If your test registers 4 pCi/L or greater for radon, then you should call in a professional and definitely consider mitigation.” “Contractors go through a certification process to become mitigation experts. Use people on the list! Do your research and
have a comfort level before having someone work on your home,” recommends Aardrup. The City also sells in-home, do-it-yourself, short-term test kits at the Fort Collins Senior Center for $6 and long-term kits for $20. Details about this program are found at www.fcgov.com/radon and www.fcgov.com/healthyhomes/. Aardrup indicates that every home built in 2005 or beyond is required to have a passive radon mitigation system, but you should still test at least every other year. “Results can vary from home to home,” says a City employee. Statistically, 70% of the homes tested for radon in the city are testing high. Out of those, only 50% have it professionally mitigated. “We really want people to take that next step and mitigate,” recommends Aardrup. “Being aware of the levels of radon in your home are important to families’ health, but the first step to knowing is testing.”
Malini Bartels is a lifelong creative working at the Music District. She is also a freelance writer, chef, mother, radio host, and actress. Her incorrigible Corgi occupies most of her time.