SALT LAKE CITY — A bill inspired by a KSL investigation made it through the Senate Thursday evening, the last night of the legislative session, and will soon be put into action.
SCR11 is a resolution taking aim at Utah's radon gas problem. It the first action Utah has taken on the issue, despite over two decades of warnings.
However, the resolution is not a law; it's a request asking homeowners to test for radon, realtors to educate and government agencies to give time and money to the cause. It also designates January 2014 as Utah State Radon Action Month. In short, the resolution is more about education than mandates.
The initial proposed resolution came after a KSL investigation revealed the state had no laws in place to protect citizens from radioactive gas, even though it's considered the second-leading cause of lung cancer. Investigations uncovered unhealthy levels of radon gas in a Draper development and tied radon to multiple diagnoses of lung cancer in the state.
Instead of crafting a law, the bill's sponsor, Senator John L. Valentine, R-Orem, took the resolution route that asks Utahns for voluntary compliance.
- designates January 2014 as Utah State Radon Action Month in the state of Utah
- urges citizens, business owners, institutions, and other groups to become educated and protect themselves from the dangers of elevated radon gas levels
- urges the citizens of the state of Utah to take steps to protect themselves from the dangers of radon exposure
"I don't like to do laws just to mandate laws just for the sake of mandating. I do like to have people do voluntary things that are in their best interest," Valentine said in an interview earlier this month. "I think that's where we start with the concurrent resolution."
The resolution may be just the first step of many for lawmakers as they wait to see what effect it has on the issue. The bill urges realtors and home builders to share information with home buyers on the dangers of elevated gas levels, and the Utah Association of Realtors is already updating their radon brochure and plan to give away free radon testing kits.
Valentine said he would like to see similar efforts across the board in Utah and hopes the voluntary resolution will inspire such action. If not, an actual law could be in the works for the future.
"We can come back and look at that particular segment or stakeholder and say, ‘You know what? We may need to use some government directions more than just in a resolution,'" he said.
Contributing: Linda Williams