Utah radon expert advises: ‘It is imperative to test for radon in Utah’

One in three Utah homes has high levels of the radioactive gas that causes lung cancer, and most Utahns don’t know it.

What is radon

Radon is a naturally occurring radioactive gas that is widespread in Utah due to the state’s geography. This gas is created when uranium in the ground decays, and uranium is found throughout the state.

Although it is not harmful to our lungs when we breathe it outdoors, it can become dangerous if it remains trapped inside our homes and is inhaled for an extended period of time.

Radon exposure causes 21,000 lung cancer deaths per year and should not be taken lightly. Conservatively, 33% of homes tested in Utah have elevated radon levels, but some studies show more than 50% of homes in Utah.

Why you should care

Radon is the leading cause of lung cancer in non-smokers and the second leading cause of lung cancer in smokers. Additionally, radon-induced lung cancer is completely preventable.

“Most things we deal with in medicine, we always talk about a small chance of making a difference. If you have a one in three chance of having a problem in your home today, that’s something you should do something,” said Dr. Wallace Akerley, a medical oncologist at the Huntsman Cancer Institute.

Akerley’s medical opinion is something Saratoga Springs resident Todd Smith wished he had heard years ago. Smith never thought he would say goodbye to his wife at such a young age. “Losing someone to lung cancer is devastating. But at the same time, there are also things you can do to prevent something like this,” Smith explained.

Since Rachel’s death, Todd has been encouraging Utahns to test their homes for radon. “Something like radon is something that you can avoid, that we can actually test for. If I could go back, if I could have prevented it, if I could have done something, it would be worth it .” Smith had a radon mitigation system installed in his home and encourages all Utah residents to take radon seriously. To read more about Todd and Rachel’s story, click here.

Todd and Rachel Smith with their children.
Todd and Rachel Smith with their children. (Photo:

Why you haven’t heard of radon

“Why don’t I know about radon?” is one of the most common questions non-smoking lung cancer patients ask Eleanor Divver, Radon Project Coordinator at the Utah Department of Environmental Quality. “Why haven’t we done more to educate the public about what radon is, how easy it is to detect and fix it?”

The answer to Divver’s question isn’t simple, but one thing is certain: Every Utahn should test their home for radon. According to the EPA, it’s also important to test every two years or whenever a major structural change is made to your home. “It is imperative to test for radon in Utah,” Divver said. “We’re a mining state. There’s a lot of uranium in the ground. So we need to make sure we test our homes.”

It’s heartbreaking to share with our loved ones and cancer survivors to tell them: yes, if you had simply taken a radon test, you could have protected yourself and your family from this diagnosis of cancer. lung.

–Eleanor Divver, Radon Project Coordinator, Utah Department of Environmental Quality

Divver explained that radon is measured in picocuries per liter of air, or pCi/L. For example, outdoor air averages 0.4 pCi/L. Although there is no safe level of radon, most experts agree that outdoor air does not pose a significant health threat. Conversely, the average indoor radon level in Utah is 5.3 pCi/L. This level presents the risk of lung cancer equivalent to smoking half a pack of cigarettes every day.

With so many homes in Utah experiencing dangerous radon levels, Divver often has difficult conversations with residents who have been diagnosed with non-smoking lung cancer. “It’s heartbreaking to share with our loved ones and cancer survivors to tell them: Yes, if you had simply tested for radon, you could have protected yourself and your family from this lung cancer diagnosis.”

What you can do

The first and most important step is to test for radon. According to Divver, you must first perform an activated carbon test to find out the level of radon in your home. You can get a free test at, mailed directly to you. Shipping, kit, and lab fees are all prepaid, so you don’t have to worry about fees. After completing the simple test, you will get your home’s results in 7-14 days. If your home’s test results are high, a radon mitigation system can be installed to reduce the amount of radon to a safer level.

Radon poses a danger to all Utahns, but you have the opportunity to act now and protect yourself and your loved ones from radon-induced lung cancer. To get your free radon testing kit, go to

News Source :
Gn Health

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