January 29, 2023

The gas is the second most common cause of lung cancer and is easily detected

Brian Devine, director of environmental health at San Juan Basin Health, is urging residents to take free, simple radon testing in their homes. (File by Jerry McBride/Durango Herald)

San Juan Basin Public Health will be offering a series of radon awareness workshops over the next three weeks in recognition of National Radon Action Month.

The colorless and odorless gas can leak out of the ground into houses and buildings through cracks in the foundation. It is radioactive and responsible for an estimated 21,000 deaths annually nationwide. The gas is also the second leading cause of lung cancer and the leading cause of lung cancer in non-smokers.

The free workshops will take place on the following dates:

  • January 25, 1-2 p.m., Durango Public Library, 1900 East Third Ave.
  • February 1, 6-7 p.m., Durango Public Library
  • February 16, 6-7pm, via Zoom (RSVP at t.ly/YgRo)

Participants will learn how to test their home, find certified testing professionals, and interpret and act on test results. You will also receive free home testing kits.

Homes in La Plata and Archuleta counties are more likely to have unsafe radon levels than elsewhere in the country due to the geology of the area. Every census in the state has a “high potential” for an average indoor radon level that exceeds recommended limits, according to a map released by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. Public health officials have long urged area residents to take the simple, inexpensive tests.

“Only a home test can tell you the risk of radon in your home — not your neighbor’s results and not out-of-date results,” SJBPH Environmental Health Director Brian Devine said in an email The Durango Herald. “Radon testing is simple and easy to do, and mitigation, where test results indicate it, is highly effective in reducing the risk of lung cancer, particularly for people who have never smoked. Financial support is also available for mitigation projects should low-income residents need it.”

All workshops are led by qualified SJBPH staff.

More workshops will be announced in the coming days. To learn more or to register for a workshop, call 335-2060 or visit sjbpublichealth.org/radon.

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