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What is the Radon Lab and what will it do?                               Youtube link   

We established the Utah Radon Lab (URL) in December 2022 with the support of the Interdisciplinary Exchange for Utah Science (NEXUS Center) 


One important purpose of the lab is to train students of all backgrounds about how to conduct high-quality research on this important topic. In some cases, students are even able to satisfy research requirements for their degree through their participation in the lab. In addition, the URL recruits talented students from a range of campus STEM training programs (e.g., Solution Scholars, Health, Air Pollution, and Population Initiative in Education and Science Training [HAPPIEST], and the Summer Program for Undergraduate Research [SPUR]) to offer research and STEM opportunities for first generation, Latinx, and Native American students. These collaborative relationships have been very successful and have allowed the lab to expand its testing capacity, increase knowledge about radon among a range of groups, and further our understanding of radon workforce needs and limitations. 



The following are the goals that we hope to accomplish in the coming years through the URL: 

  1. To test public schools in Utah and enable schools to take action to improve their educational settings.
  2. To inform a range of actors in Utah about the harms from radon. This may include schools, community groups, legislators and administrators, and the campus staff and students.
  3. To study the relationship between radon levels and building characteristics, health, and demographic factors within Utah communities.
  4. To train students to conduct radon testing in residential and commercial settings and to collect, manage, and analyze radon data for the project.
  5. To provide research opportunities and training for students that will help to develop key leadership and research skills that enable students to give back while expanding their own potential and abilities in STEM fields.
  6. To help establish effective, durable, and efficacious radon policies for the state of Utah.
  7. To improve public awareness about the risks of radon exposure and to better inform Utahns about the best strategies for mitigating these risks in surrounding communities.

First, the URL will conduct testing for radon in public schools and buildings and produce academic research on the relationships between radon levels and demographic and contextual factors. Since the URL currently has the funding and capacity to test 60 public schools over the upcoming radon testing season (Nov 2023-Feb 2024), our efforts will greatly expand school testing in Utah. Pending additional funding, we will also continue testing at this capacity for 4-6 additional years with the goal of reaching all public schools in the state. Based on this research effort, our team will also help to create a radon action plan for the state and propose legislation around a range of public policy outcomes related to radon in Utah. 

Second, to improve radon research capacity and increase STEM training in this area, The Utah Radon lab will provide a semester-length research experience (with an additional semester possible for the most exceptional candidates) through the Environmental and Sustainability Studies Undergraduate Research Program. An adjacent lab will be established at BYU.  

In addition, we will hold community awareness events including a series on lung cancer awareness in November 2023 and a radon awareness series in January 2024. During these week-long events, students and members of the University of Utah community will be able to receive a complimentary radon testing kit, learn about the impacts of radon from top researchers, and participate in campus events on radon. We will also be working with the Sorensen Unity Centerand the Wellness Bus to inform low-income residents throughout our community about the risks of radon and provide information on free testing from the state.  


Expected Outcomes 

In the first statewide study on radon levels in Utah public schools, we intend to test a random sample of approximately 220-280 public schools in Utah. Having this baseline is critical for future analysis and research in this area. In addition, we plan to train 10-15 student researchers, four workforce interns from the Ute Tribe’s office of Air Quality, and two graduate students each year to help conduct radon testing for the URL and to support a large-scale radon testing protocol.  

Student researchers will work alongside the Utah Radon Coordinator, and faculty mentors including Drs. Tabitha Benney and Brett Clark to provide accurate and accessible information. Students will be engaged in event planning and coordination, both on campus and in local communities. This will include events to raise awareness, provide information, and supply community members with resources. Lab members will also present to legislators in various formats in an effort to improve radon policy in the state. 

Last Updated: 1/10/24