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41% of Utah homes have dangerous radon levels, association warns

“Since radon is odorless, tasteless and colorless, the only way to detect radon in your home is to test the air. This is why it is critical for everyone to test their home,” Nick Torres, director of advocacy for the Lung Association in Utah, said.

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The American Lung Association says 41% of Utah homes have dangerous levels of radon gas, the second highest cause of lung cancer.

Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

The American Lung Association says 41% of Utah homes have dangerous levels of radon and it is encouraging Utahns to check to see if actions should be taken to reduce those levels.

During January, which is Radon Action Month, the American Lung Association is urging people to obtain a self test to check their homes for radon. The naturally occurring gas is the second leading cause of lung cancer, behind smoking, causing about 21,000 deaths each year.

Despite the levels of radon in 41% of Utah's homes, the state still has the best lung cancer rate in the country, according to the association's State of Lung Cancer.

Radon can enter a home from the ground through cracks in floors or basement walls.

"Since radon is odorless, tasteless and colorless, the only way to detect radon in your home is to test the air. This is why it is critical for everyone to test their home," Nick Torres, director of advocacy for the Lung Association in Utah, said last week.

The American Lung Association suggests using a radon test kit, to see if you have radon levels above 4 picoCuries per liter. The kits can be purchased from the association or the Salt Lake County Health Department, and Utah Radon Services provides tests free of charge.

The American Lung Association said if high levels are detected, a mitigation system should be installed, and it should be considered if levels are above 2 picoCuries per liter.

It cautions that the installation should be done by a certified professional, and would include sealing cracks and adding a vent pipe.

The most recent State of Lung Cancer, which is published each year, examines how lung cancer screening can detect the disease while it is treatable, and advancements that could bring more treatment options.

Dr. Wallace Akerly, director of the Lung Cancer Disease Center of Excellence at the Huntsman Cancer Institute, said in a statement from Utah Radon Services: "Countless never-smokers and smokers have died from radon-induced lung cancer. The greatest tragedy is that radon exposure can be limited, and these deaths could have been prevented."