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Utah Students Leading Radon Awareness Campaign

Date Published: 09/15/2020 [Source]

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.