The Utah Department if Environmental Quality urges Carbon County residents to test local residences for elevated levels of radon.
Exposure to radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States. It is a health hazard that is present in elevated levels in about 30 percent of Utah homes, according to state environmental quality officials.
DEQ is collaborating with the American Lung Association of Utah and the state safety council in an effort to educate residents about the dangers of radon exposure and to encourage people to take action to identify and fix radon problems in their homes.
"The purpose of the week is to draw attention to radon as a serious public health issue and, more importantly, to motivate Utahns to take action to protect themselves from radon health effects," said John Hultquist, coordinator of Utah's indoor radon program
Radon is a naturally occurring, invisible, odorless gas that is dispersed in outdoor air, but when concentrated in buildings, it can be harmful at elevated levels.
"Never before have we had such scientific consensus and robust data to support that exposure to elevated levels of radon causes lung cancer in humans," Hultquist said.
Testing homes for elevated levels of radon is simple and inexpensive. Radon test kits that meet the United States Environmental Protection Agency guidelines are available at hardware and home improvement stores, the American Lung Association and the Utah Safety Council.
If discovered, radon problems can be fixed by qualified contractors for a cost similar to that for many common home repairs, such as painting or having a new water heater installed (anywhere from $500 to about $2,500).
Radon is a naturally occurring, invisible, odorless, gas that comes from deposits of uranium in soil, rock and water. It is dispersed in outdoor air, but when concentrated in buildings, can be harmful, especially at elevated levels.
Radon is a radioactive decay product of radium, which is itself a decay product of uranium. Uranium and radium are both common elements in soil.
The primary source of high levels in homes is the surrounding soil. Radon has been found in elevated levels in homes in every state. DEQ estimates that 30 percent of the homes across the state have elevated levels of radon.
Radon can be inhaled into the lungs, where it undergoes radioactive decay.
As it decays, radon releases tiny bursts of energy called alpha particles, which can harm sensitive lung tissue by damaging the DNA. The damaged DNA can lead to lung cancer.