Utah students are invited to help increase testing of homes for radon by participating in the 2019 National Radon Poster Contest that begins Oct. 22.
One in three homes in Utah have elevated levels of radon gas. Exposure to radon can cause lung cancer, according to the Utah Department of Environmental Quality.
State radon poster contest winners will receive cash awards, with three first-place winners receiving $100 each and the winner’s teacher receiving $100.
Second- and third-place winners also will receive $100 each. There are three age categories: Grades 4-6, 7-9, and 10-12.
Children ages 9-18 enrolled in a public, private, territorial, tribal, Department of Defense or home school are eligible to participate. Members of a sponsoring club, such as a scouting organization or an art, computer, science or 4-H club, also are eligible.
The DEQ’s Radon Program is coordinating this year’s contest in partnership with the Utah Department of Health, Utah Cancer Action Network and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
There is no entry fee, but only one entry per student is allowed. The entry deadline is Oct. 22. Poster contest submission forms, topics and rules may be found online at radon.utah.gov. The public is invited to judge this year’s state posters by voting online also at radon.utah.gov.
Online voting runs from Nov. 5-12. All posters will be judged on content-accuracy, visual communication of topic, reproducibility and originality.
Radon is a radioactive gas produced by the natural decay of uranium found in soil, rocks and water. It is the second leading cause of lung cancer, according to the U.S. Surgeon General. The gas may leak into and accumulate in homes through openings like cracks in the foundation, regardless of a home’s age and whether or not the home has a basement. The gas is odorless and colorless. Testing is the only way to know if it’s present.
The Tooele County Health Department estimates that one out of every three homes in Tooele County may have radon levels higher than the EPA’s action level of 4 picocuries per liter of air.
It is possible for one house in a neighborhood to have a radon level above the action level while other homes in the same neighborhood may be lower, according to the health department.
Test kits for radon can be purchased for $5 at the Tooele County Health Department in the Environmental Health Office at 151 N. Main Street in Tooele City. The health department is open Monday-Thursday from 8 a.m.- 6 p.m. and Friday from 8 a.m. to noon.