Radon is known as the slow, “silent killer.” You can’t smell it, taste it, or see it, but it’s the number one cause of lung cancer death for non-smokers. Although Utah has the lowest rate of smoking in the nation, lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death in our state.
Radon is even more of a concern during the pandemic, now that we are spending more time in our homes working, exercising, or attending virtual school.
“During the winter we are often focused on our outdoor air quality. Now that we are spending more time in our homes, we should also take a look at our indoor air quality,” said Eleanor Divver, DEQ Radon Program Coordinator.
You can only detect radon by testing. In Utah, 1 in 3 homes that were tested, and 1 in 2 homes in some areas, have radon levels higher than what are considered safe for humans. Radon is measured in units called picocuries. Anything higher than 4 picocuries is not considered safe. The average radon level in Utah homes that have been tested was 5.3 picocuries. According to the EPA, every 10 picocuries is the same as smoking a pack of cigarettes a day.
Testing your home is easy and inexpensive. To help protect Utah residents from the health impacts of radon DEQ provides $10.95 test kits at radon.utah.gov.
“Testing your home for radon is the only way to know if you and your family are at risk,” said Divver.
If your home has radon levels that aren’t safe, mitigation is possible. The most common way is for a radiation mitigation specialist to drill a 5 inch hole into the slab. Then, they add PVC piping and a fan, and the radon is pulled from underneath your home. The mitigation systems usually cost around $1,500.
Once the system is installed, radon levels will be less than 4 picocuries, and it doesn’t take much maintenance after installation.The radon leaves quickly once it enters the outside air and is no longer harmful once it’s not in an enclosed space.
For more information on radon or where to buy test kits, visit radon.utah.gov.