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Utah lung cancer survivors: Test your house for radon

Charlie McQuinn didn’t think much about the cracks in the basement floor of his Cottonwood Heights home, where he maintains his office downstairs.

But that was before his doctors found a three-inch tumor in the lower lobe of the non-smoker’s left lung two years ago. The culprit turned out to be radon that had accumulated in his home.

"The dryer creates a vacuum that draws the gas up through the cracks," McQuinn told a Senate committee last month in support of SB109, a bill that would establish a $100,000 statewide radon awareness campaign.

Senators unanimously passed SB109, and a House committee gave its OK Thursday, sending it to the full House.

The one-time state appropriation would replace disappearing federal funding.

Read the full article online: http://www.sltrib.com/sltrib/politics/57636934-90/radon-cancer-lung-poulsen.html.csp

State Warns of High Radon Levels in Homes

One of every three homes in Utah could have elevated levels of radon, which can cause deadly health problems, but many people have no idea there could be radon poisoning them in their own home.

The Utah Department of Environmental Quality, Division of Radiation Control joined with CanSAR (Cancer Survivors Against Radon) and others on the steps of the Utah State Capitol Wednesday to raise awareness of this issue.

The Governor has declared January as Radon Action Month, and, according to a press release from his office, radon is the second biggest risk factor for lung cancer, next to smoking. It is estimated to cause about 21,000 deaths annually. Radon, a natural decay product of uranium, is a radioactive gas released from rock, soil and water.

Children Use Artwork to Educate Families

SALT LAKE CITY-- Utah children have another opportunity to raise awareness about the risks of indoor radon by participating in the 2013 National Radon Poster Contest. The state contest officially opens Aug. 1, and runs through Oct. 15.

The Utah Department of Environmental Quality, Division of Radiation Control has coordinated this year's contest in partnership with Kansas State University and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Children ages nine through 14 enrolled in a public, private, territorial, tribal, Department of Defense, or home schooling are eligible to participate. Members of a sponsoring club, such as a scouting organization, 4-H, or art, computer and science clubs are also eligible. There is no entry fee, but only one entry per student is allowed.

Utah's State of Environment Report Highlights Milestones

Utah's State of Environment Report Highlights Milestones

SALT LAKE CITY — The year 2011 brought the 20th anniversary of the state's establishment of an environmental regulation department, and a number of milestones were achieved this year aimed at cleaning up Utah's air, water and land.

Even the little things — like recycling old tires — add up in big ways. The state Department of Environmental Quality reports that nearly 100 percent of all tires collected in Utah were recycled or reused, amounting to 43,000 tons or 2.6 million tires that escaped the fate of landfills or dumping grounds.

In its annual "State of the Environment Report," the regulatory agency also noted an increased public awareness over the dangers of radon during 2011, with an uptick in both the number of tests performed and the number of radon mitigation systems installed in homes.

Utah Youths Could Win Cash in Radon Poster Contest

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah children have a chance to boost awareness about the dangers of indoor radon by entering a poster contest coordinate by the state of Utah in partnership with Kansas State University and the EPA.

Children ages 9 to 14 are eligible, with the entry deadline set for Oct. 15. State and national winners will receive cash rewards. All those who enter at the state level will be entered in the national competition, but entries are limited to one per child.

Poster topics must include one of the following themes: what is radon; where it comes from; how it gets inside homes, the fact that it causes cancer, or that homes can be tested.

Last year, poster contest winners were: Marissa Funke, first, South Hills Middle School, Riverton; Jessica Edmondson, second, Taylor Elementary School, Payson; and Alisha Kirkland, third, Provost Elementary, Provo.

Utah Teams Up with Habitat for Humanity to Promote Radon-Free Homes

Utah Teams Up with Habitat for Humanity to Promote Radon-Free Homes

To educate builders and raise public awareness about radon-resistant new construction (RRNC), the Utah Department of Environmental Quality, Division of Radiation Control (DRC) teamed up with the Habitat for Humanity of Utah County (Habitat) during National Radon Action Month (NRAM). DRC partnered with Habitat – a nonprofit, housing organization that provides affordable housing for people in need – to promote healthier homes.

“Consumers are becoming more aware that radon is a health risk, and building a new home with radon-resistant features can help to reduce elevated levels,” Radon Program Coordinator Christine Keyser said. “In addition, installing radon-resistant features at the time of construction is easier and cheaper than fixing a radon problem later. According to DRC’s radon measurement data, one in every three homes in Utah will have elevated levels of radon.“

Utahns Exposed to Radiation More Than Those at Sea Level

Utahns Exposed to Radiation More Than Those at Sea Level

SALT LAKE CITY — The worry about trace amounts of radiation in milk and contamination from Japan reaching the West Coast — and some believe, Utah — has reignited the debate over what level of radiation is safe.

But nuclear engineers say everyone is exposed to radiation every day. There are even common household items that will set off a Geiger counter.

Gary Sandquist, professor emeritus of nuclear engineering from the University of Utah, says Utahns are exposed to more radiation every day than those living at sea level, since exposure goes up for each hundred feet of elevation.

Plus, Utah's rich granite deposits in the Wasatch Mountains contribute to radiation exposure.

"We have a lot of granite, and we also have an active fault, the Wasatch Fault," Sandquist said. "And this material, as a result, allows radon and other materials to move in."

Utah Homes Have Higher Level of Radon Gas Than National Average

SALT LAKE CITY - In the United States nearly 1 in 15 homes are estimated to have elevated levels of radon. In Utah, one in three homes tests high. The Utah Safety Council is urging Utahns to test their homes for radon.

Radon is a naturally occurring, odorless, tasteless, radioactive gas produced by the breakdown of uranium in rocks and soil. Radon enters homes and buildings through cracks and other openings surrounded by soil. Radon is not dangerous when diluted by outdoor air, but when trapped inside a home or building it can build to dangerous levels.

Radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States. An estimated 21,000 people die each year from radon-related cancer. After being inhaled, radon gas decays into radioactive particles. As the particles break down in the lungs they release small bursts of energy that can damage sensitive lung tissue and lead to lung cancer.

New faces in state radiation programs

Utah’s radiation programs have new leaders.

The new director of the Radiation Control Division is Rusty Lundberg, who has worked in the state’s solid waste and sustainability programs.

Lundberg replaces Dane Finerfrock, who has led radiation programs for the past seven years and retires at the month’s end.

“Rusty has excellent management and leadership skills,” said Utah Department of Environmental Quality Director Amanda Smith, “and will do an outstanding job in the Division of Radiation Control.”

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Judge OKs Drilling at Uranium Mine in Manti-La Sal National Forest

A federal judge will allow a uranium mining company to drill several new holes in the Manti-La Sal National Forest.

Three Moab conservation groups had asked Judge Dale A. Kimball to halt the drilling planned by Denison Mines Corp. at its Pandora Mine, claiming the U.S. Forest Service permitted the project without an adequate environmental study.

Uranium Watch, Center for Water Advocacy and Living Rivers argued that Denison would create radioactive air emissions and heavy metal contamination if it drills 16 exploration holes and two radon vent holes, a project approved by the Forest Service.

Kimball gave more weight to Denison’s environmental expert, who said there was no significant risk of environmental harm. Kimball also wrote that the Forest Service followed procedural rules when it allowed the project without environmental assessments or impact statements.