New trail, raw cookie dough, radon checks

Northern Colorado communities are continually adding ways for people to move and enjoy our great outdoors. Its leaders also keep residents informed about health and safety issues. Read on for news about some of the latest of both.

Riding or walking a trail from Loveland to Fort Collins? Yes, please!

The first paved trail connecting Loveland and Fort Collins—and each city's extensive trail network—is now open to the public.

The Colorado Front Range Trail—Loveland to Fort Collins Connection runs between Lemay Avenue and Timberline Road on the east side of the cities. From south to north, the two-mile multi-use trail extends from Loveland's Recreation Trail just west of Boyd Lake State Park to the City of Fort Collins' Fossil Creek Trail at Carpenter Road.

"This is a great project that highlights how Fort Collins, Larimer County and Loveland have worked together to provide great recreational opportunities for citizens," says Larimer County Commissioner Tom Donnelly.

A partnership among Larimer County, Loveland and Fort Collins will manage the trail. By using this new trail connection, people can go from the 35 miles of paved trails in Fort Collins' system to the 18 miles of trails in Loveland's system without hopping off their bikes or getting in a vehicle. The trail is open to foot traffic and non-motorized bicycles.

Beware of raw flour, dough

Who doesn't love nibbling on raw cookie dough? It's a tempting treat, but the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) urges consumers to avoid snacking on uncooked dough or batter of any kind, and reminds parents to be wary of homemade “play” clays and doughs—even if children don’t eat them.  

Eating raw dough or batter—whether it’s for bread, cookies, pizza or tortillas—can make you, and your kids sick. Why? Flour, regardless of the brand, can contain bacteria that cause disease. In 2016, the FDA, along with the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) investigated an outbreak of infections that illustrated the dangers of eating raw dough.  Dozens of people across the country were sickened by a strain of bacteria called Shiga Toxin-producing E. coli.

People often understand the dangers of eating raw dough due to the presence of raw eggs and the associated risk with Salmonella. However, there are additional risks associated with the consumption of raw dough because of flour. 

Flour is derived from a grain that comes directly from the field and typically is not treated to kill bacteria.  So, if an animal passes feces in a field where the grain is growing, bacteria from the animal waste could contaminate the grain, which is then harvested and milled into flour. Typical methods to sterilize foods during preparation include boiling, baking, roasting, microwaving and frying. However, when it comes to raw dough or batter, decontamination has not occurred. 

The FDA recommends the following tips to keep you and your family safe:

  • Don't eat any raw cookie dough, cake mix or batter that is supposed to be cooked or baked
  • Follow package directions for cooking products with flour at proper temperatures and for specified times
  • Wash hands, work surfaces and utensils after contact with flour and raw dough products
  • Keep raw foods separate from other foods while preparing them to prevent any contamination that may be present from spreading. Be aware that flour may spread easily due to its powdery nature
  • Follow label directions to chill products containing raw dough promptly after purchase until baked.

For more information on safe food handling, visit www.weldhealth.org.

Radon, be gone

Forty-six percent (46 percent) of all homes in Colorado are estimated to contain high levels of radon, which is the number one cause of lung cancer among non-smokers. That's why the Weld County Health Department is offering free radon test kits to any Weld County resident—limit one per household. 

Radon is an odorless, colorless, radioactive gas that results from the natural decay of uranium. Uranium is found mostly in rock formations, but can also be found in soil and water. Radon typically moves up through the ground and into homes through cracks and other holes in a house’s foundation. The home acts as a cell in which radon can settle and build up to toxic levels. The only way to know the levels in your home is to test. Health officials urge all Weld County residents to take action by testing their homes for elevated levels of radon. If a home tests high for radon, remediation can mitigate the problem. 

Where to get a radon test kit

Larimer County

The City of Fort Collins offers a short-term radon test kit for $6 and a long-term test kit for $20.

They're both available to the general public at:

City Fort Collins Senior Center, 1200 Raintree Dr., FC

City of Fort Collins Development Review Center, 281 N. College Ave., FC

970-221-6600, www.fcgov.com/airquality/radon.php

The City of Fort Collins Healthy Homes program, which offers in-home assessments for health, safety, and air quality to Fort Collins residents only, includes a short-term radon test.

970-416-2832, www.fcgov.com/healthyhomes

The City of Fort Collins also offers a free presentation to the general public about radon and short-term radon test kits are given to participants. Registration is required. The presentations scheduled for 2018 are:

Weld County:

Free test kits are available at the following Weld County office, Monday-Friday, 8am-5pm. 

Weld County Department of Public Health and Environment, 1555 North 17th Ave., Greeley

Southwest Weld County Health Department satellite office, 4209 County Road 24½, Longmont

970-400-2226.

Colorado:

The state of Colorado's website also contains information about radon and testing for it. Discount priced kits are available through the site.

www.colorado.gov/pacific/cdphe/testing-your-home-radon