Radon is a naturally occurring radioactive gas that comes from the decay of Uranium, which makes up a portion of the Earth's crust. Depending on the concentration of Uranium, different areas have higher potential for radon gas. Many areas in Colorado have a radon gas potential above the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) Action Level of 4 picocuries per liter (pCi/L). Therefore the EPA recommends that any structure having a radon gas level above 4 pCi/L should be mitigated to remove the harmful gas.
Radon gas enters the structure through tiny cracks and crevices along the walls and foundation of the structure. As radon is produced, the pressure caused by the gas increases within the soil and therefore has to be released. This causes the gas to move through the soil releasing pressure along the way. Naturally during warmer months, the radon gas can move through the ground and into the environment. However, during colder months where there may be snow covering the ground, the radon gas cannot escape and looks for other ways out of the soil. radon gas can diffuse through basement floors, hollow concrete block walls, and any other pathway available to nearby structures. In these colder months, many structures are kept closed from the entrance of fresh outside air and the radon gas does not get diluted. With these cold months comes an increase of indoor structure heating and as people heat the structures, a pressure differential is created between the lower areas of the home and the upper areas known as the "stack effect." As the warm air rises through the house, it sucks the radon gas from under the home's foundation into the home, thus increasing the radon concentration within the home.
Radon is a colorless, odorless, and tasteless gas that kills thousands of people every year. The EPA has stated that 1 out of every 15 homes in the USA have elevated radon levels. Since radon is an invisible gas, the only way to protect structure occupants is to perform regular testing. If elevated levels are found, a radon Mitigation system should be installed to dilute the gas within the structure.