My Mother has Radon Poisoning?
My mother quit smoking 30 years ago, which is why we were really confused by her diagnosis of lung cancer this summer. But since she had smoked in the past, we just figured that was that.
Until she had her house tested for radon.
There is a law in New Jersey that when you sell your house you have to get radon testing done. We thought nothing of it.
Radon is an odorless gas that is radioactive and caused naturally by decaying uranium that is present in the ground. The gas seeps in through tiny cracks in the foundation and, in my mother’s case, around the sump pump to prevent the basement from flooding.
When you breathe it in, it mutates the cells in your lungs. If you smoked even a small amount (100 cigarettes in your lifetime) your risk of lung cancer increases significantly.
While no level of radon is good, the EPA says when the level in your home is between 2 pico Curies per Liter (2 pCi/L) and 4 pCi/L you need to have it mitigated by installing a specialized fan, otherwise you increase your risk of getting lung cancer.
Guess what level my mom’s house read? Almost 7. At that rate (according to the testing report) Mom had about a 1 in 20 chance of developing lung cancer.
My mother had a split level home so the roof of the basement was the floor of the kitchen. The lower levels of the home held the family room and office, where she spent the bulk of her time once retired and also where the highest concentration of radon accumulated.
Obviously, we had to fix the situation before we could sell the home. The cost to install the radon fan was $2,175, which in the grand scheme of things, is nothing. I wish we had known about this danger years ago, when we could have taken action and possibly prevented my mother’s illness.
The reason why I’m writing this post is to get the word out to get your house tested, especially if you have a basement. You can hire a company to do it, or get a kit from your local hardware store and do it yourself. Here is the link to the EPA’s website for radon mitigation services for each state: State Radon Contractors.
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