Utah DEQ News

No Need to Panic! Steps You Can Take to Rid Your Home of Radon

By Eleanor Divver

Click for larger image.

You’ve probably heard on the news that one in three homes in Utah has elevated levels of radon, and that radon is the leading cause of lung cancer in nonsmokers. And, since you care about your family’s health and safety, you’ve tested your home — and your results came in above the EPA action level of 4 picocuries per liter of air (pCi/L). What do you do now?

Learning that you have elevated radon levels in your home can be upsetting, but fixing the problem is easier and less expensive than you may think. We’ve compiled the list below to help walk you through the mitigation process.

Hire a certified mitigator.

Certified mitigators have the technical knowledge to reduce radon levels in your home safely and effectively, so it’s critical that you hire a trained contractor who is certified in radon mitigation. Not sure where to find one? Go to our radon website and click on the Certified Mitigator link. You will be directed to the NRPP/AARST website where you can search for qualified professionals in Utah.

Get three bids from the NRPP/AARST list.

If you solicit at least three bids, you will have a good idea of the general price range of mitigation services.You may want to choose a contractor located close to your house or go with the lowest price.

Weigh your options

You will usually have two options for radon mitigation: an active mitigation system inside the home or outside the house. Since every home is different, one option may work better for you than the other. The cost should be around $1500. Mitigators begin the installation by drilling a five-inch circular hole in the foundation of your house. They use four-inch PVC piping and an exhaust fan located outside your house or in an attic space to pull the radon gas from the soil underneath the foundation. The gas is then released into the air away from your home.

Get a signed contract

The mitigator should sign a contract that he or she will get the radon levels at or below 2.7 pCi/L of air. If he or she is not willing to do this, don’t use them.

Test your home after the mitigation system is installed.

The contractor will give you a radon test kit to check the radon levels in your home after the mitigation system has been running for 24 hours. Certified mitigators guarantee their work, so they will return to your home and make adjustments to your system if the levels don’t fall below the 2.7 pCi/L threshold.

You can tell if your radon mitigation system is working properly by checking the manometer installed by the contractor. The manometer measures the vacuum pressure inside the radon system, letting you know if the system is on and the fan is working. We recommend that you test your home every two years, even with a mitigation system, to make sure that the system is still functioning properly.

After installation, your ongoing costs will be relatively minimal. You’ll pay about $6 to $8 per month on your utility bill, and you will need to replace the fan after about 15 years. Not sure if you can afford a mitigation system? If you or a family member needs financial assistance and you live in Salt Lake County, Green and Healthy Homes has funding available to help qualifying families pay for the costs of mitigation.

We hope this article takes some of the mystery out of radon mitigation. And remember, to protect yourself and your family, test your home for radon today.

Haven’t tested your home yet? We have $9 test kits available for Utah residents. Testing is easy, and you’ll get your results back quickly. Always use a certified mitigator if you have elevated levels of radon in your home. Be leery of individuals who come to your home and offer to install a mitigation system for you; certified mitigators wait to hear from you. If you have further questions about radon or radon mitigation systems, please call me at 801-536-0091.
Radon Gas

Eleanor Divver

I have worked in the radon field for 15 years, most recently as the radon coordinator for the Department of Environmental Quality. I enjoy being outdoors with my family and golden retriever.

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2018 State of the Environment Report

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Utah Environmental Quality Offering 100 Free Radon Kits

To request a kit, visit radon.utah.gov and click on the link for a free test. DEQ provides radon test kits for $9.

Testing your home for radon is easy. Winter is the perfect time to test your home for radon because all of your doors and windows are closed. Testing is the only way to know if your home has elevated levels. Health officials point out that long-term radon exposure is the leading cause of lung cancer in non-smokers and the second leading cause of lung cancer in smokers. More Americans die from lung cancer than any other cancer. Every year 21,000 lung cancer deaths are because of radon exposure.

Utah’s Environment: A Look Back at 2018

By DEQ Communications Office

At the Utah Department of Environmental Quality our job is to safeguard and improve Utah’s air, land and water through balanced regulations. Doing this means that the scientists and engineers at DEQ must work across a variety of disciplines and in every corner of the state. This work is an important part of building a prosperous and healthy Utah where all of us can thrive. Each week in the “DEQ Blog” we document their undertakings and projects.

At the start of a new year, we thought it would be nice to take a look back. Below are the ten most popular blogs from 2018.

From all of us at DEQ, happy new 2019!

1. Snow Blower Exchange Helps You Clean Your Driveway and Our Air

Snow Blower Exchange Helps You Clean Your Driveway and Our Air

2. Wood Stove Rebate Program Will Help Reduce Emissions

Wood Stove Rebate Program Will Help Reduce Emissions

3. Understanding Utah’s Air Quality

Understanding Utah’s Air Quality

4. Recapping the 2017-18 Inversion Season

Recapping the 2017-18 Inversion Season

5. Wildfire’s Impact on Our Environment

Wildfire’s Impact on Our Environment

6. Air Shed Grant Targets Wood Stoves

Air Shed Grant Targets Wood Stoves

7. “Golden Spoke” Bike Ride Celebrates Completion of Jordan River Parkway

“Golden Spoke” Bike Ride Celebrates Completion of Jordan River Parkway

8. Recycling: This Earth Day, Let’s Get Back to Basics

Recycling: This Earth Day, Let’s Get Back to Basics

9. Curb Your Enthusiasm: How to Recycle Right in Utah

Curb Your Enthusiasm: How to Recycle Right in Utah

10. #NoMowDays and Other Ways to Trim Your Grass and Your Emissions

#NoMowDays and Other Ways to Trim Your Grass and Your Emissions

Originally posted: December 31, 2018 at 11:00 am
Last updated: December 28, 2018 at 2:52 pm
Categories: Featured, News

Having a Blast With Emergency Permits

Hogs Back near Escalante, Utah

In April, two tourists came upon unexploded mortar rounds in the sand outside of Escalante, Ut.

By Deb Ng

When you think about waste in the desert, your first thoughts are errant beer cans left by campers, or a Snickers wrapper dropped by hikers.

That wasn’t the case in April when travelers happened upon two unexploded mortar rounds in the sand outside of Escalante. From a distance the tourists thought they saw bowling pins sticking out of the dirt. A closer look revealed the explosive truth.

Garfield County Sheriff’s Office was the first to catch wind of the dangerous waste. In turn, they contacted the Bomb Disposal Team from Hill Air Force Base. The bomb squad determined that the best course of action was to detonate the explosives in place. The team would establish a secure perimeter around the shells and then blow up the projectiles using a small charge.

Before they could do that, though, they needed to make a call to the Division of Waste Management and Radiation Control for an emergency permit.

Under Utah State Law, the WMRC Director is in charge of issuing temporary emergency permits. This permit allows facilities (or groups) to treat, store, or dispose of explosive waste. In this case it allowed the bomb squad to detonate the shells in place.

Situations like this may seem unusual. The truth is, they are more common than you would think. This year our team has dealt with 24 emergency permits for explosives so far this year. The permits have ranged from dealing with unexploded TNT at a mineshaft in Emery County, to a box of dynamite left in the basement of a Park City miner’s cabin.

With the clock ticking on literal bombs, paperwork might seem like a silly requirement. Understanding the stakes, the WMRC team exemplifies DEQ’s values when dealing with emergency permits—lives depend on it. Exceptional Service, Credibility and Trust, and Continuous Improvement are paramount to effectively and efficiently fulfilling WMRC’s role in dealing with this deadly waste.

After a quick call to WMRC, a permit was secured. Then, the bomb squad went about finishing its job. The area was cleared and the mortar rounds were exploded. Most of the nearby residents didn’t even know what had happened until they saw the TV news coverage. By that time, the public was out of harm’s way and the anonymous employees of the bomb squad and WMRC were on to their next tasks.   

Reduce Reuse RecycleI am the manager at the Division of Waste Management and Radiation Control in charge of emergency permits. I love to golf and travel.

DEQ’s Night Before Christmas

Adapted for DEQ by Jared Mendenhall

Read by Executive Director Alan Matheson