Hot Zones – High-Radon Neighborhoods in Fort Collins

Radon, an invisible radioactive gas, is the leading cause of lung cancer in non-smokers. This odorless threat seeps into homes through foundations, undetected, accumulating to hazardous levels indoors. Prolonged radon exposure greatly increases lung cancer risks. While radon can be found almost anywhere, data shows certain Fort Collins neighborhoods have significantly higher concentrations based on local geology and home ages. Understanding radon hot zones helps residents better protect their families.

The Dangers of Radon Exposure

Radon forms naturally from uranium decay present in soils and rocks. It enters homes through cracks and openings in basement foundations and concrete slabs. As radon further decays, it releases radioactive particles that lodge in lungs when inhaled, emitting dangerous radiation that mutates DNA and causes cancer.

The EPA estimates 21,000 lung cancer deaths occur annually in the U.S. from radon. Smokers exposed to radon have a much higher lung cancer risk. The EPA recommends fixing indoor radon levels that measure at or above 4 pCi/L (picocuries per liter). However, any exposure poses some risk. Fort Collins urges residents to test and mitigate at 2.7 pCi/L.

Radon Hot Spots in Fort Collins

While radon can be found across Fort Collins, certain areas have geological and structural factors that increase radon risk. Reviewing available home test data, cancer statistics, and soil types reveals the top radon hot spots:

Old Town
Many historic brick and stone homes in Old Town sit atop gravels deposited by an ancient river basin that allowed radon to move freely. Tests show elevated levels, especially in homes with old basements. Mitigation is critical but tricky for preservation.

Lincoln Junior High Area
This neighborhood has consistently higher radon levels due to its older housing stock with unfinished basements and uranium-containing soils. The school underwent mitigation for its high radon results. Nearby residents should be vigilant.

Former Industrial Areas
Locations near former mining sites or factories have soils with higher uranium content. Homes south of downtown near the Sugar Beet Factory show substantially higher radon levels. Industrial waste increased radioactivity.

Southwest New Developments
While newer construction should include radon-resistant features, inadequate foundation sealing in some homes allows radon entry. Soils in this area also contain more granite and gravels that enable radon flow.

Larimer-Weld County Line
Uranium-rich soils extend from Weld County, increasing radon potential for homes in northeast Fort Collins between I-25 and U.S. Highway 287. High levels occur here.

Take Precautions Everywhere
It’s important to note radon can invade any building regardless of location or home age. Never assume a neighborhood is low risk. Fort Collins residents should test regularly and mitigate when results are at or above 2.7 pCi/L. Workplaces should test frequently as well.

Use online radon zone maps from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment to gauge your general risk area. But the only way to determine your home’s radon levels is to test. Radon has no boundaries and can’t be predicted.

Protect Your Family from the Invisible Radon Threat
Radon lurks in Fort Collins homes, but residents have power over this sneaky invader through awareness, testing, and proper mitigation. Contact the city for test kits, certified mitigation contractors, and financial assistance programs if needed. Let’s work together to dissipate radon dangers, improve home safety, and reduce lung cancer risks across all our neighborhoods.

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