‘Overwhelming’ response to radon test after woman Lehi shares story of cancer diagnosis

LEHI, Utah — Thousands of Utahns responded to a Lehi woman’s plea to test their homes for radon after she was diagnosed with stage four lung cancer from non-smokers.

“The response has been overwhelming,” said Eleanor Divver, radon coordinator for the Utah Department of Environmental Quality. “People testing and asking questions.”

Kerri Robbins shared her diagnosis and how she discovered high levels of radon in her home with KSL in November. Since then, more than 11,000 Utah residents have requested testing for the cancer-causing gas.

“A big thank you to Kerri,” Divver said. “She is absolutely saving lives.”

Radon action levels:

On the advice of a cancer specialist, Robbins had a radon test at his home in the fall. The results revealed that his home level was 31.3 pCi/L (picocuries per liter).

The Environmental Protection Agency recommends that homeowners install a radon mitigation system if the level is 4 pCi/L or higher.

“I love my home. I love my neighborhood and I found out that’s probably what gave me cancer,” Robbins told KSL in November. “I woke up the next morning and thought, ‘I need to let people know about this.’

Kerri Robbins

Radon is a radioactive gas that forms naturally in soil as uranium and other metals decay, according to the EPA. It enters homes through cracks and gaps in the foundation.

“Because there is no known safe level of exposure to radon, the EPA also recommends that Americans consider repairing their homes to radon levels between 2 pCi/L and 4 pCi/L,” states the EPA website.

The World Health Organization recommends that owners take steps to remedy radon if levels reach 2.7 pCi/L or higher.

“Our level went from 31.3 to 1.3,” Robbins said after installing a mitigation system in his home. “Now I feel much more comfortable in my home.”

A radon mitigation system.

Robbins said the radon test is cheap, easy and the only way to know if your home has elevated levels.

“Much cheaper than cancer,” she said. “My chemo drug costs $16,000 a month.”

After her diagnosis, Robbins said it was an emotional holiday season because everything is most precious to her now.

“Baking my cookies, you sit there and ask yourself, ‘How many more times am I going to be able to do this?’ Because I know it’s limited,” she said. “For the first time in my life, I asked myself, ‘Is heaven like Christmas?’”

Robbins said he still has a good quality of life and is using that energy to warn others about radon.

“I’m on a mission. Let’s save lives,” she said. “It’s not going to happen to someone else just out of ignorance.”

Utahns test for radon

Heidi Parker lives a few streets away from Robbins and decided to test her home after learning of her cancer diagnosis.

“I never thought radon would be in my house, especially where it’s a new home,” Parker said.

Your home came back with a radon level of 19.7 pCi/L.

“I was nervous about my family’s health,” Parker said of the test results. “Essentially, my two kids who are downstairs and my 2-year-old grandson smoke 40 cigarettes a day.”

Heidi Parker’s radon test results.

Parker quickly installed a mitigation system, which captures the radon under the foundation and pulls it out of the house through a pipe.

“Our radon levels are now undetectable,” she said. “I give Kerri all the credit. Who knows if she saved me from cancer or my 2 year old grandson or my 17 year old son?”

Heidi Parker

Robbins’ story also led Rebecca Watson and her neighbors to test-drive their homes in Draper.

“This house is 53 years old and we had no idea,” Watson said. “I have a walkout basement, so I thought I had enough ventilation in this house.”

Watson’s test results came back with a reading of 7.9 pCi/L. She also had a mitigation system added to her house.

“You cannot feel comfortable in your home when you know you have high levels of radon,” she said. “I don’t think people are really aware of the danger of that.”

Of the more than 11,000 tests ordered after Robbins shared his story in November, about 8,500 were provided free of charge by mitigation company Utah Radon Services.

“In one hour, we received about 2,000 requests for radon tests,” said TJ Mellars of Utah Radon Services.

Of the results that came back, the company reports that about half tested at the World Health Organization’s action level or above 2.7 pCi/L. Mellars said no area of ​​Utah is exempt from the need to test.

“Radon exists in St. George, in Cedar City. In fact, some of the highest levels of radon ever measured in Utah were in Beaver,” he said.

Request a test:

Utah residents can order discounted testing for less than $11 through Alpha Energy Laboratories. Price includes test analysis.

Health departments in Summit, Tooele, Wasatch, and Box Elder counties, along with the Bear River Department of Health, sell discounted radon tests at their offices.

Utah Radon Services offers a free radon test. The company-supplied test uses the same third-party lab, Alpha Energy, as the state-ordered test.

The state radon office provides a searchable list of certified radon professionals for measurement and/or mitigation.

Salt Lake County residents who need financial assistance to pay the cost of radon mitigation can apply through the Green and Healthy Homes program.

Even in homes with a radon abatement system installed, the state radon office recommends that you still have your home tested every two years.

The EPA recommends retesting your home for radon if you’ve renovated or altered your home since the last test or if your living standards have changed with someone occupying a lower level of the home than previously tested.

Divver said the land is constantly shifting under the houses.

“A lot of people called and said their results changed because of the earthquake,” Divver said.

If someone tested for the first time during the summer months, Divver recommended that they also test in the winter. She also said that it doesn’t matter if you live on the banks or in the valley.

“There’s uranium in the ground, there’s uranium in rock everywhere,” she said. “It doesn’t have to be near a canyon. It doesn’t have to be on top of a mountain.”

Nationwide, the EPA estimates that one in every 15 homes has very high levels of radon. Utah is most at risk, with one in three homes being tested above the EPA’s action level.

‘Overwhelming’ response to radon test after woman Lehi shares story of cancer diagnosis

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Scroll to top