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During winter months, Utahns move many activities indoors to avoid snow, ice, and freezing temperatures. While staying warm indoors has many perks, radon levels often increase in buildings during winter, posing dangerous health risks to those who spend time inside places with high radon levels.
What Is Radon & Why Should I Be Concerned?
Radon is an odorless, invisible, radioactive gas that rises from the soil in the ground. When released outside, it is not a concern to your health. However, radon also rises through the foundation of buildings, and long-term indoor exposure can damage the DNA in your lungs. Radon is the leading cause of lung cancer in nonsmokers in the United States and can also cause other life-altering lung diseases.
Radon gas is measured in picocuries per liter of air (pCi/L). At low levels, radon exposure isn’t a concern, but once you reach certain levels, serious health effects can occur. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommends considering mitigation if your home tests between 2–3.9 pCi/L and strongly recommends mitigation if your home tests at or above 4 pCi/L. The World Health Organization recommends mitigation if your home tests at or above 2.7 pCi/L.
Why Is Radon a Greater Risk in Winter and How Do I Find My Winter Radon Level?
Utah’s average radon levels are 56% higher in the winter, and there are a few reasons why this increase happens.
- Frozen and snow-covered ground allows less radon to escape into the air outside. As a result, radon gets trapped in the soil and rises to higher concentrations in homes.
- When outdoor temperatures are cold, hot air in a building rises and escapes to the colder air outside. In a phenomenon called “the stack effect,” homes pull air from the soil through cracks in concrete, plumbing, drains, and more to equalize the air pressure, allowing more radon into the building.
- When people close all their windows to keep warm air inside, the stack effect can increase, causing radon levels to rise.
Any exposure to high radon levels is cause for concern, and just because your home tested low for radon in the summer doesn’t mean that your risk is low in the winter. The EPA recommends testing your home for radon every 2 years regardless of your previous test results.
What Can Be Done About High Radon Levels During Winter?
Although high radon levels are dangerous, there are steps you can take to make your home safe again. If your home tests high for radon, Utah Radon Services is happy to walk you through the process of mitigation, beginning with a free radon removal bid.