DefinitionRadon is a naturally occurring gas produced by the decay of uranium in soil, rock, and water. You cannot see, smell, or taste radon gas, but it can accumulate in buildings as it moves through cracks and holes in building foundations. Radon is more dense than most gases present in the air, therefore it is commonly found in basements. The accumulation of radon in your home can pose a danger to your family's health, as it is the second leading cause of lung cancer (after smoking). Radon is measured in picocuries per liter of air (pCi/L).
NumeratorRadon test results data in pCi/L for home radon tests ordered through the Utah Department of Environmental Quality (UDEQ).
Radon data from the Behavioral Risk Factors Surveillance System (BRFSS) uses the individual weighted responses to radon questions by Utah residents.
DenominatorIf applicable: [[br]]
Radon test results use the total number of tests.[[br]]
Radon BRFSS survey data use the individually weighted number of respondents.
Data Interpretation Issues'''There are certain data issues that users should take into consideration when using this data.'''
__Radon Test Results:__
*These data include tests that occurred both pre- and post-mitigation.
*These tests are only those that are reported to the Radon Program at the Utah Department of Environmental Quality (UDEQ).
*Counties are reported by the residence where the test kit was shipped to. This means a test that is used in a different county from where it was shipped could be misclassified.
*Radon testing is optional in Utah and must be conducted by homeowners' and/or renters' choice; there are no systematic testing procedures. Therefore, only homes that actually conducted a radon test are reported.
*If multiple tests are conducted in a single household, all test results will be reported, regardless of differences in the radon pCi/L level.
*Differences in housing structure, age, and state of repair is a major determinant of radon exposure risk. Due to housing differences, two neighbors can have entirely different radon test results, which reinforces the importance of all citizens to test their home for radon.
*If the test did not detect radon, then the limit of detection for that test was reported as the radon level at that location.[[br]]
__BRFSS Radon Data:__
*Radon questions were asked in 2013, but not the 2014 or 2015 surveys.
*The questions are adjusted based on the response by the adult respondent; individual knowledge of a house could vary.
*It is unclear how an individual would answer some of the questions if their house was mitigated for radon.
*This data may not be as representative as other BRFSS data because radon can be extremely different in similar or nearby houses.
Why Is This Important?The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that about 21,000 lung cancer deaths each year in the U.S. are related to radon. Exposure to radon is the number one cause of lung cancer among nonsmokers and the second leading cause of lung cancer overall. Those who smoke and are exposed to radon have an especially high risk of developing lung cancer.
Testing your home for radon levels is the only way to know if you and your family are at risk from radon. Tests for your home are inexpensive and easy. Tests can be purchased at home improvement stores, the National Safety Council, and from Utah's Division of Radiation Control ([http://radon.utah.gov Utah Radon Program], where the cost of a test kit is $10 for Utah residents). If your home radon test results measure 4.0 pCi/L or higher, the EPA recommends you take action to lower the amount of radon in your home.
A mitigation system may be installed by a certified contractor and usually costs between $1,000 and $2,500. For a list of qualified mitigation contractors contact the National Radon Proficiency Program, the National Radon Safety Board, or by going to the Utah Department of Environmental Quality (UDEQ) [http://radon.utah.gov/ Radon Program] and clicking on "Certified Mitigators/RRNC".
Short-term radon tests require 48 to 72 hours to complete. Before testing, the house should be closed for about 12 hours and then the test instrument is activated and left in place for 48 hours or more. Activated charcoal tests are commonly used in short-term tests. It is important to place the radon test in the lowest lived-in level of the home. For example, if the basement is frequently used, place the test in the basement. Otherwise, place it on the first floor. Be sure to carefully follow all instructions provided in the radon test kit.
There are tests that take more than 91 days to complete and are conducted with the house in a normal living mode. These long-term results give a more representative picture of the true radon levels in the home; fluctuations in temperature and pressure are detected and factored into the value. These tests are not currently reported to UDEQ.
How Are We Doing?Currently, only a very small portion of Utah's population has tested their homes for radon. In order to get better information and save lives from lung cancer, more people need to test.
What Is Being Done?The Utah Department of Environmental Quality (UDEQ) Radon Program is alerting Utahns to make testing their homes for radon gas a high priority. To assist citizens, the division is offering radon test kits for a reduced cost at [http://radon.utah.gov/] or by calling 1-800-458-0145.
The Division is also reaching out to citizens through the media, quarterly newsletters, public information sessions, Real Estate Continuing Education programs, and public presentations on "How to Protect Yourself and Family from Radon" and "Radon Resistant New Construction." To schedule a presentation refer to the contact information above.