She knew better and did nothing.
For Lois Turner Dees, that's the most frustrating part of knowing that radon in her home contributed to her diagnosis of lung cancer.
She knew radon was a dangerous, known cause of lung cancer and prevalent in Central Kentucky, but she never had her home tested.
"It just wasn't a high priority," said Dees. "We knew you could have radon tests; we just didn't get it done."
When she says "we" she means herself and her late husband, Larry Turner, who bought the house in 2000. She still lives there.
Some remember Dees, who remarried shortly after her cancer diagnosis in 2011, as one of the public faces of grief after the crash of Comair flight 5191 in August 2006, in which her husband and 48 others were killed. Turner's was the first public funeral, drawing 1,200 people from among the many who knew him from his job as head of the University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Office.
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has taken significant steps towards eliminating radon exposure in renter-occupied homes by issuing two new policies that will incorporate radon testing and mitigation into HUD programs to help prevent some of the estimated 21,000 lung cancer deaths radon causes in the United States every year.
HUD’s Office of Multifamily Housing new policy requires radon testing and, if applicable, mitigation for most new FHA-insured construction, conversion and substantial rehabilitation projects, as well as most FHA-insured refinance transactions. Radon testing and mitigation is not required for refinance projects located in low risk areas, or if a certified Radon Professional determines that radon risk is sufficiently low for the project.
ST. PAUL – Janet Thompson was being treated for terminal lung cancer, but her thoughts were about others.
She lobbied people she saw to check their homes for radon, a colorless and odorless radioactive gas that can cause lung cancer.
Now, her sister has taken up the cause. Lori Thompson-Garry told a House committee Wednesday that she backs a bill that would require a radon test when a house goes on the market.
“Lung cancer is very silent,” said Thompson-Garry of Eagan. “She had no symptoms.”
Thompson, who had lived in Glenwood, died last September at 49, two years after being diagnosed. In those two years, Thompson-Garry said, her sister told those giving her medical tests – and anyone else she could – that radon tests are important.
Rep. Paul Anderson, R-Starbuck, said he wants to raise awareness of radon risks. He said he does not expect the bill to pass this year but eventually it will be state law.
OLATHE, Kan. — The drought in the midwest could be causing an unhealthy amount of radon gas to seep into your home, putting you and your family at risk of lung cancer. While that may sound overly dramatic, experts say it is a real concern.
Craig Istas said he was shocked how much radon was in his home.
“I built this house 20 years ago,” Istas said, “I’ve been breathing this stuff for 20 years, so yeah I got concerned about it.”
What is radon? It comes from uranium, found naturally in most soil, and as it decays it emits radon gas.
James Connell with A1 Radon said anything that measures less than four picocuries is considered safe. But Craig was shocked what A1 found in his house.
“I was out of town while he tested it, so I came back and he said ’25′ i was like wow!” said Istas.
In 2007, Minnesota became the first state in the nation to pass a law requiring all new homes to be built with radon mitigation systems. Rep. Kim Norton, then a first-term DFLer from Rochester, was the legislation's chief author, and since then, six other states, including Illinois, Michigan and Oregon, have followed Minnesota's lead.
There was good reason for Norton and Minnesota to take this step. Radon is an odorless, colorless gas that is the leading cause of lung cancer in nonsmokers, killing 21,000 Americans each year. It seeps in through cracks in basement walls, floors and foundations, and Minnesota (especially Olmsted County) has some of the highest radon levels in the nation. About 40 percent of homes tested in Minnesota are found to have radon levels that are high enough to require a mitigation system that pipes the gas out of the house.
Obviously, the best time to install such a system is while a home is being built and definitely before the basement is finished.
DALLAS -- When she first settled into her Dallas home six years ago, Kimberly Stokes asked if she should test for radon.
She said she was told she didn't need to worry about it.
That’s a starkly different answer than the one you get from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which estimates that radon kills as many as 20,000 Americans each year through lung cancer.
“Never smoked a day in their life, got lung cancer and, unfortunately, died because of that,” said George Brozowski, the EPA’s regional radon coordinator in Dallas.
The EPA has been trying to educate the public with a radon campaign, with commercials that warn viewers that radon is the number-one cause of lung cancer among non-smokers.
Despite the effort, many are still unaware of the risk.
There may be a silent killer lurking in your home.
The killer is the colorless, tasteless and odorless gas, radon, which causes an estimated 20,000 deaths from lung cancer each year. Radon is emitted from the ground and enters a home through cracks in walls, basements, floors and other openings. Only smoking causes more lung cancer. That invisible threat is why the American Lung Association applauded the recent announcement by U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) that it is taking steps to protect families from exposure to this dangerous culprit.
HUD will begin to require testing for this radioactive, natural gas in any multi-family house that has been financed or refinanced by the HUD. If tests indicate that unsafe levels of radon exist, the building will be repaired to reduce the radon to safer levels.
Every 25 minutes, one person in the U.S. dies from radon-related lung cancer. It is the largest environmental cancer risk and the leading cause of lung cancer among non-smokers. Fortunately, the risk is largely preventable.
More than 40 percent of Minnesota homes have dangerous levels of radon gas and state health officials say every home should be tested. To emphasize the importance of radon testing, Gov. Mark Dayton has declared January “Radon Action Month” in Minnesota. More than 40 local public health agencies around the state have partnered with the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) to make more than 8,000 radon test kits available to local residents at low or no cost. For details on how to obtain a kit, contact your local public health agency or MDH. A list of participating health agencies can be found on the MDH website at www.health.state.mn.us.
When news of elevated indoor-radon risk in the Portland area broke last month, I figured saying home test kits were "widely available" and briefly describing the typical fix would do the trick.
Wrong. The questions from readers, co-workers and neighbors keep coming in.
The risk is real -- radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States, after smoking -- though not astronomical. The Environmental Protection Agency figures 21,000 people a year, 18,000 smokers and 3,000 nonsmokers, die of lung cancer from exposure from radon, a radioactive gas drawn from soil into homes.