Utahns are, on the whole, fortunate to inhabit a state fraught with relatively few threats of natural disaster. Earthquakes are infrequent, hurricanes are nonexistent, flood patterns are generally predictable, and all the volcanoes have long lain dormant. The weather may be off-kilter sometimes, and winter may be long, but for the most part, Nature’s whims do not generate serious hazards to safety. However, there is a little-known natural nuisance encroaching upon Utah’s domiciles that has been linked to a number of fatalities over the years. This hazard—a decay product of uranium that permeates earth, wind, and water throughout the world—is typically harmless outside, but tends to collect indoors where air circulation is inferior. This hazard is the “silent killer” known as radon.
Radon poisoning occurs when radon in “groundwater or building materials enters working and living spaces and disintegrates into its decay products.” While radon exits the ground all the time, it is more apt to get into a person’s lungs via indoor inhalation. It leaves no perceptible traces before it strikes; the only way to test for it is with a certified kit.
Everyone who inhabits, works in, or spends any substantial amount of time in a building is at risk for exposure to elevated radon levels. To find out why this should pique attention and preventive action, read on:
1. After smoking, radon is the leading cause of lung cancer.
The United States Environmental Protection Agency issued a warning in 2009 stating that radon is responsible for 14% of lung cancer cases throughout the world. People who live their entire lives without touching cigarettes have a higher threshold before lung cancer encroaches than those who do smoke; but in rare cases, lung cancer may originate from exposure to radon alone. Don’t be foolhardy: you are susceptible to radon poisoning whether or not you are a smoker.
2. Radon poisoning causes 21,000 deaths per year.
At the present time, radon poisoning is not a commonly understood risk. Usually because of simple ignorance, tens of thousands of people lose their lives prematurely to radon-induced lung cancer each year. Although new legislation is being debated in Utah, there are currently no legal compulsions to test for radon poisoning. Proponents for radon awareness highly suggest that people take the initiative, themselves.
3. Approximately ⅓ of Utah homes have elevated radon levels.
Christine Keyser, a program coordinator for the Division of Radiation Control, warns that Utah families are especially at risk for radon poisoning. In the Salt Lake City area, the average household runs a 30-60% chance of radon contamination from the soil and groundwater. Thus, everyone in Utah is encouraged to have their homes tested for dangerously high levels of radon.
4. Lung cancer’s survival rate is only 15% five years after diagnosis.
Full recovery from lung cancer depends on how soon it is diagnosed and at what stage. It is better to catch the risk of radon poisoning well ahead of time than to wait until it may be too late. Whatever trifling inconvenience it may be to have a home tested for radon, or even mitigated in the event that radon levels are high, it pales in comparison to the medical costs of lung cancer and lost quality of life.
5. It doesn’t cost very much.
Testing your home for radon poisoning is well worth the insignificant cost involved: a test kit and results from the Utah Safety Council only costs $7.00. Periodic tests at $7.00 apiece are a terrific value that could ward off calamity well before it approaches. Not only is radon testing important; it’s a steal.
Presently, realtors are under no obligation to run radon tests or mitigation on homes they market. However, laws are subject to change…and negligence is illegal in any context, whether or not radon poisoning is involved. If you are suffering as a result of radon contamination or another harmful defect, a skilled personal injury attorney can tell you if you have a case for compensation. To consult cost-free with Utah personal injury attorneys Christensen & Hymas, call (801) 506-0800.
Image courtesy of Eneko Lakasta