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Odorless, Colorless and Dangerous

Jan 04, 2016 12:02PM ● Published by Bryan Scott

By Hope Zitting

South Valley - Being healthy is an accomplishment commonly sought-after. Many people strive to make simple little changes in their lives, from taking the stairs instead of the elevator to switching out a cookie for carrot sticks. Despite all these health-conscious decisions, there may be a hazardous gas lurking in your home causing all these good choices to be for naught. 

On Nov. 19, in the Building 1 South Lobby Entrance of the Intermountain Riverton Hospital, located on 3741 West and 12600 South, numerous residents of Riverton City gathered around to listen to seminars given on radon awareness in Utah. 

The first seminar, held from 6-7 p.m., was presented by Denitza Blagev, MD, who is a pulmonologist with Intermountain Health Care. The second seminar was taught by Eleanor Divver, Radon Project Coordinator Department of Environmental Quality, Utah Department of Health, from 7-8 p.m.

Radon is an odorless, colorless, naturally occurring radioactive gas that is a natural byproduct of uranium. It is rated as a Group A carcinogen, along with tobacco products and tobacco smoke. 

Radon gas radiation is the number one cause of lung cancer in nonsmokers, and the second most common cause of lung cancer in smokers. Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death and the second most common cancer within the United States.

One-third of all Utah homes are high in radon levels. Many experts speculate that this is a result of Utah’s long mining history. Houses trap radon gas inside, where it has the ability to build up and move through the ground and into the air.

The inhalation of radon decay products, such as alpha particles, stay inside the lungs and damage the lung tissue, and eventually damage the DNA in the cells.

Radon testing is extremely important, especially in a beautiful state like Utah where one would never suspect an odorless and colorless danger to be hiding. Morgan Roberts, a representative for Radon Be Gone Inc., said, “Our motto is: test at home, fix at home, save a life.” 

There are numerous methods to check if your home is safe from radon. Radon testing kits can be purchased online, in hardware stores or retail outlets. These kits usually run under $10. Radon testing can be done both short-term and long-term. Short-term testing takes between two to 90 days, and long-term testing takes over 90 days.

If the testing kit reads four picocuries per liter (pCi/L) or higher, your home and the ones living within may be in danger. Contact a radon gas mitigation expert immediately and act now to reduce the risk. 

Schools also have potential radon radiation exposure. The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that one in five schools have a high radon level in Utah. 

Radon is more toxic for children than adults. The heightened exposure is a result of children breathing faster and deeper and being more active, generally. Advocate for the school grounds to be tested for radon if they have not been tested yet.

For more information concerning radon and its effects, go to radon.utah.gov.  

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