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Radon in Utah

Is radon in Utah schools? KSL investigates

HOLLADAY — A silent killer may be lurking in Utah schools, but districts aren't required to test for it. Radon is a colorless, odorless gas that seeps up from the ground. Health officials say it is the second-leading cause of lung cancer after smoking. Many Utahns have tested their homes and found high levels of radon, but what's going on in our schools?

To find out, the KSL Investigators teamed up with radon technicians and district officials to test six elementary schools in the City of Holladay: Cottonwood Elementary, Crestview Elementary, Howard R. Driggs Elementary, Morningside Elementary, Oakwood Elementary, and Spring Lane Elementary.

Armed with more than 200 charcoal test kits, Radovent technicians set out samples in every office, classroom, and space frequently occupied by teachers, students and staff.

Read more here

Utah Radon Poster Contest is Underway

American Fork Junior High science teacher John Moon is ready for the state’s annual radon poster contest.

Last year his eighth-grade student Tucker Nixon had already entered his poster when Moon learned about the contest. And when Nixon’s entry was judged the state’s best, the teacher was able to accompany his student to meet Gov. Gary Herbert at an awards ceremony.

"Radon gas is very common in Utah and very deadly," said Moon, noting the gas is odorless and colorless.

"Our best defense is proper new construction and continuing education," the teacher said. "By getting our youth involved in this state contest we will be doing our part to protect their future."

This year’s contest is underway, and the Utah Radon Program is looking for entries through Oct. 15. Online voting is set for Oct. 21-28.

Keyser: Indoor Air Pollution Can Kill You

As coordinator of the state’s indoor radon program, I routinely deal with inquiries regarding health risks related to indoor radon exposure. My worst phone call is: "My wife/husband was just diagnosed with Stage 4 lung cancer, we have never smoked a day in our lives and our doctor told us to test our home for radon. What is radon, and why hasn’t someone told us about it?"

Currently, Utah lawmakers are addressing major air quality concerns. It is no secret: Utahns value their crystal clear mountain air. Most often, it is the outdoor pollution that captures the attention because nasty smog is visible.

Ironically, indoor pollution, which may have higher health risks, receives less attention because it is not detectable. If homeowners could see the polluted air in their bedrooms and cozy family rooms, they would be shocked. Even worse, if they or someone they loved were diagnosed with lung cancer, they would probably demand answers to how and why.

Radon Bill Will Not Make it Through the Legislature

SALT LAKE CITY — A bill sparked by a KSL investigation into Utah's non-existent radon gas laws will not make it through the legislature.

The bill's sponsor, Senator John L. Valentine, R-Orem, said the Radon Gas Provisions bill request hasn't even been drafted. It's apparently stuck in line at the drafting office with hundreds of other unprocessed bill requests.

"We made budget cuts over the last number of years just like all the agencies did, so we're seeing a very slow process in getting bills through our offices," he said. "It's very much jammed in the system."

Now, instead of a law to help protect Utahns from exposure to radon gas, Valentine has crafted a concurrent resolution asking for voluntary compliance.

"I don't like to do laws just to mandate laws just for the sake of mandating. I do like to have people do voluntary things that are in their best interest," Valentine said. "I think that's where we start with the concurrent resolution."

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.

3 Family Members Diagnosed with Lung Cancer; Radon Suspected

DRAPER — She still doesn't know how it happened: three family members diagnosed with lung cancer in one year. And the strange thing is none of them ever smoked.

"(My husband) was 44 when he was diagnosed, and he died on his 45th birthday," said Mary Ann Williams, a resident of Draper. "My mother was diagnosed six days after I buried my husband ... that was hard to take. And then my daughter's mother-in-law, she passed away a year after my husband."

That was six years ago. Today, Williams wonders how it happened. She said her husband, Steve Williams, was in great shape. He ran marathons, went on big hikes and loved to ride his bike. But in the fall of 2005, he developed a bad cough.

"He had, kind of was feeling pressure on his chest," Williams said. "(The) doctor just decided he was stressed, didn't even listen to his lungs, just gave him cough medicine and went on his way."

The cough got worse. Several months later, Steve ended up in the hospital.

Dangerous Level of Radon Gas in 34.5% of Utah Homes

SANDY, Utah (ABC 4 News) - Our ABC 4 news investigates report is exposing a silent killer seeping into thousands of Utah homes.

It's a clear and odorless gas called radon. We mailed 16 radon test kits to homes across Utah. Six of the nine test kits, mailed to a lab for results before this story aired, uncovered dangerous levels of radon in the homes.

Connie Nordgren's home in Sandy tested the highest at 26.2, which is alarming. The EPA strongly recommends homeowners take action if a test kit finds a level of four or higher.

"That really concerns me. All of my loved ones have been in the basement," she said.