By DEQ Communications
Utah students are doing their part to bring awareness of radon in Utah by participating in the 2020 National Radon Poster Contest, which begins Oct. 22. The Utah Department of Environmental Quality’s (DEQ) Radon Program is coordinating this year’s contest in partnership with the CDC Epidemiology Tracking Program, local health departments and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). State contest winners will receive cash awards, with three first-place winners receiving $100 and his/her teacher receiving $100. Second- and third-place winners also will receive $100 each. There are three categories: Grades 4-6, 7-9, and 10-12.
What is Radon?
Radon gas occurs naturally when uranium-bearing granite breaks down into radium. As the radium decays it releases carcinogenic radon gas. Under ideal circumstances, the gas moves up through the soil and out into the atmosphere where dilutes and poses little human risk.
If a building is constructed on top of the decaying uranium, instead of dissipating in the atmosphere, the radon gas is trapped inside. Occupants, including pets, then breathe the gas. At unhealthy levels, the people working or living in the building will eventually develop lung cancer.
One out of three homes in Utah test above the radon action level of 4 picocuries per liter (pCi/L) of air. In fact, the average radon level in homes tested in Utah is an unhealthy 5.3 pCi/L of air.
Radon is the leading cause of lung cancer for non-smokers in the United States and believed to be the cause of 21,000 deaths a year. You can’t see, smell, or taste radon. And, unlike carbon monoxide, it does not make you sick immediately.
Testing for Radon
Although radon poses serious human health hazards there is a simple solution: Test your home.
The EPA and the U.S. Surgeon General urge all Americans to protect their health by testing their homes, schools and other buildings for radon. Testing your home is easy and inexpensive. Test kits are available online for $11 for Utah residents.
Now, learning that you have elevated radon levels in your home can be upsetting. Fixing the problem, however, is easier and less expensive than many think. The Utah Department of Environmental Quality’s Radon Program has compiled the list to help walk you through the mitigation process.
2020 National Radon Poster Contest
One of the biggest hurdles in protecting the public from radon is awareness. By participating in the 2020 National Radon Poster Contest, school children across the state can do their part by bringing attention to the real threat of cancer from radon.
Children ages 9-18 enrolled in a public, private, territorial, tribal, Department of Defense or home school are eligible to participate in the 2020 National Radon Poster Contest. Members of a sponsoring club, such as a scouting organization or an art, computer, science or 4-H club also are eligible.
There is no entry fee, but only one entry per student is allowed. The entry deadline is Oct. 22, 2020. Poster contest submission forms, topics and rules may be found online at radon.utah.gov.
The public is invited to judge this year’s state posters by voting online. Online voting runs from Nov. 5-12. All posters will be subject to the following judging criteria: Content-accuracy, visual communication of topic, reproducibility, and originality.
More information about contest eligibility, radon test kits, and radon contractors is available at radon.utah.gov or by calling Utah’s Radon Hotline at (800) 458-0145.