State warns of high radon levels in homes

SALT LAKE CITY — One of every three homes in Utah could have elevated levels of radon, which can cause deadly health problems, but many people have no idea there could be radon poisoning them in their own home.

The Utah Department of Environmental Quality, Division of Radiation Control joined with CanSAR (Cancer Survivors Against Radon) and others on the steps of the Utah State Capitol Wednesday to raise awareness of this issue.

The Governor has declared January as Radon Action Month, and, according to a press release from his office, radon is the second biggest risk factor for lung cancer, next to smoking. It is estimated to cause about 21,000 deaths annually. Radon, a natural decay product of uranium, is a radioactive gas released from rock, soil and water.

This event was the third annual Capital Steps to Radon Action, and participants waved signs and passed out information regarding the dangers of Radon. Christine Keyser is the Utah indoor radon program coordinator, and she said this is a serious issue.

“We estimate about a third of the homes in Utah are going to have elevated radon levels in their home, so I think that’s significant,” she said.

Keyser said Radon can accumulate in homes as it comes up from the ground, particularly in basements, and she said homeowners should have their homes tested for Radon.  

“The only way to know if you have elevated levels is to test,” she said.

Radon tests are available at many hardware stores, or kits can be ordered from the Utah Department of Environmental Quality, Division of Radon Control for $7. To order a kit call 800-324-5928 or visit http://www.radon.utah.gov

Keyser said those who find Radon in their homes aren’t stuck with it.

“The good news is it can be fixed,” she said. “You don’t have to live in a home with high levels of radon, and you don’t have to move.”

Keyser said removing radon from a home can cost between $1,200 and $1,500, but she said given the health risks it’s money well spent.

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