There are currently over 4,000 abandoned uranium mines in remote corners of the US. Out of sight, but for people living nearby, not out of mind. Uranium produces radon, which is known to cause lung cancer. In 2012, uranium was found in the tap water on the Wind River Indian Reservation. Many say the time has come to clean up the mess. But that could cost billions. The Obama Administration is tackling the job by pushing for new fees on mining companies, but the industry says they’re too punishing. Now, new research could make uranium clean-up significantly cheaper.
The Wyoming Department of Health is encouraging Wyomingites to test the concentration of radon in their homes this winter, because it’s the time of year that houses aren’t well-ventilated, and the cancer-causing gas is more likely to rise up to living areas. The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that radon kills about 20,000 people per year. Wyoming Public Radio’s Rebecca Martinez spoke with Dr. Wallace Akerley, director of thoracic oncology at the Huntsman Cancer Institute in Utah. She started by asking him what radon is, exactly.