Making Radon Mitigation Affordable – Fort Collins Financial Assistance Programs

Radon is a serious health hazard as it silently seeps into our homes, increasing our risk of lung cancer with every breath. This odorless radioactive gas is the leading cause of lung cancer for non-smokers. While radon can be detected through home testing and reduced through mitigation systems, the high cost of these systems keeps radon remediation out of reach for many Fort Collins families. Thankfully, the city offers financial assistance programs to help residents afford this critical radon reduction for their homes.

The Health Risks of Radon Exposure

Radon is a natural byproduct of uranium decay present in nearly all soils. It enters homes through cracks in foundations and concrete floors where it becomes trapped inside. As radon further decays, it releases tiny radioactive particles that lodge in our lungs when inhaled. These particles emit dangerous radiation that causes lung tissue mutations over time, leading to cancer.

The EPA estimates radon causes over 20,000 U.S. lung cancer deaths annually. It’s the second leading cause of lung cancer after smoking. Radon is the number one cause of lung cancer in non-smokers. The EPA and Fort Collins both recommend fixing home radon levels at or above 4 pCi/L (picocuries per liter). Any exposure poses some risk.

The Importance of Radon Mitigation

When a home is found to have high radon levels, the most effective solution is to install an active radon mitigation system. This involves running PVC pipes from below the foundation slab up through the house to vent radon above the roof before it can enter living spaces. A powerful fan connected to the pipes creates a vacuum to draw radon out.

Sealing all foundation cracks is also vital to stop radon from entering in the first place. Radon mitigation systems can reduce interior radon levels by up to 99% when properly installed by certified contractors according to EPA protocols. This protects homeowners from dangerous radon exposure and greatly reduces lung cancer risks.

Barriers to Affording Mitigation

While radon mitigation is straightforward in theory, the high cost often discourages homeowners from taking action. Active mitigation system installation averages $1200 – $2500 depending on home size and foundation type. Many Fort Collins families simply can’t afford such a large, unexpected home repair expense. This leaves them unprotected from hazardous radon exposure.

Low-income households and retirees on fixed incomes are especially burdened by radon mitigation costs. Even middle-class families struggle to pay the price tag. Without financial assistance, radon remediation remains out of reach for those who need it most. Lives are lost because reducing radon isn’t financially feasible.

City Programs Offering a Helping Hand

Fortunately, the City of Fort Collins recognized that radon mitigation affordability was inhibiting public health and safety. In response, they established assistance programs to help residents fund these critical systems:

  • Radon Mitigation Assistance Program – Offers income-qualified homeowners grants covering 75% of radon mitigation costs, up to $1500. Applicants must own and occupy the home as primary residence.
  • Xcel Energy Rebates – Xcel customers can get rebates up to $200 on adding radon mitigation fan components during new system installation. Reduces upgrade expenses.
  • Permit Fee Waivers – The city waives all permitting/inspection fees for radon mitigation work, making professional installation more affordable.

The city also provides interest-free payment plan options and partners with local banks to offer low-interest loans for radon system costs. Staff help homeowners apply for additional state and federal financial aid.

Creating Healthier Homes for All

Proper radon mitigation shouldn’t be a luxury reserved only for those who can afford it. Through its financial assistance programs and resources, Fort Collins enables residents of all income levels to access these health-saving home improvements. A few hundred dollars should never come between a family and breathable air free of radioactive pollution. These programs exemplify creative solutions for advancing environmental justice so our whole community can thrive.

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