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Colder Weather Increases Radon Danger

Lung Cancer

The onset of colder weather brings things indoors, including unwanted radon gas. Radon is a result of naturally-occurring uranium breakdown in rocks and soil. The colorless, odorless, tasteless gas seeps up from the ground and can pool in a home.

“Because it’s colder outside and then warmer inside your home, that increases the radon levels,” said Eleanor Divver, radon project coordinator for the state of Utah.

Divver said the potentially elevated levels of the gas make colder months the best time to check for radon.

The gaseous toxin is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States.

One-third of the homes in Utah have elevated levels of radon, according to Divver.

“We can have elevated levels in an older home, in a newer home, even in a home that seems like there would be plenty of air circulation,” Divver said.

The only way to determine if a home has elevated levels of radon is to conduct a test; however, she said testing and correcting systems are relatively easy to acquire and use.

Radon is now on the buyer’s due diligence checklist for Utah, but testing for radon is still optional when buying a home.

Divver spoke of a recent case she dealt with where two family members in a non-smoking home were diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer because of radon.

“Once they tested their home for radon, the results came back at 17 pCi/l there; that would be like smoking a pack and a half of cigarettes a day,” Divver said.

The Environmental Protection Agency marks acceptable levels of radon to be anything below 4 pCi/l, the equivalent of smoking eight cigarettes per day. Radon experts encourage testing, especially if remodeling has been done in the home or a change in residence has occurred.

To research readings of radon in your area, visit the Utah Department of Environmental Quality website