By Eleanor Divver
Editor’s Note: This is the first of a series of posts—during the month of September—focused on simple home improvement tips to help improve your quality of life and the environment.
A family moved into their dream home in Salt Lake City 15 years ago and tested their home for radon gas. The home’s radon levels were below the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) radon action level. The family started remodeling and never thought about radon again, until the ER visit where they discovered that the wife/mother of the family had Stage 4 Lung Cancer. But, she never smoked—how is this possible? They decided to re-test the home and discovered the radon levels were very high—so high that it was like smoking three packs of cigarettes/day. How did this happen?
Radon is a radioactive, cancer-causing gas. It is the number one cause of lung cancer among non-smokers. Radon comes from the breakdown of uranium which naturally occurs in soil and rock. You can’t see, taste or smell radon. The only way to know if you have high levels of radon gas in your home is to test. Test kits are available online for $8 for Utah residents. One out of three homes in Utah has tested above the radon action level, which is 4 picocuries per liter (pCi/L) of air. The average radon level in homes tested in Utah is an unhealthy 5.3 pCi/L of air.
Test your home for radon TODAY!
What can you do if you have high levels of radon? Radon gas levels can be fixed in every home. Radon mitigation systems can be installed for around $1,300. The mitigation system will easily bring the radon to levels around 2 pCi/L of air. If you do have high levels of radon, make sure that you find a Certified Mitigator, which can be found on the Division of Radiation Control (DRC) Radon Program webpage. Picking someone to fix your radon problem is much like choosing a contractor for other home repairs—you may want to get at least two estimates.
DRC has been tracking test results via zip code for 20 years. If you would like to find out more information about the zip code that you live in please go to our webpage and select “test results per zip code.” Remember that different neighborhoods can have different quantities of radon; every home is different, and the only way to know the radon levels in your home is to test.
Please test your home for radon gas today. Call our team at (801) 536-0091, or visit DRC’s Radon Program website for more information. I would love to talk to you and answer any questions you may have about radon.
I have worked in the radon field for 15 years, most recently as the radon coordinator for the Division of Radiation Control. I enjoy being outdoors with my family and golden retriever.