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Siouxland District Health Department

Silent Killer: The Risk of Radon in Siouxland Homes

SIOUX CITY | A silent killer was in Frank and Diane Gruber's Morningside home.

They didn't know it until the house was tested for radon -- a colorless, odorless gas produced by the decay of uranium. It occurs naturally in soils, rock and water.

When radon enters buildings through foundation or basement cracks, it becomes trapped and accumulates in the lowest level, usually basements. Breathing in the radioactive gas at high levels over a long period can cause lung cancer.

The radon concentration in the Grubers' home was as high as 16 pCi/L, or picocuries per liter -- four times the level at which the Environmental Protection Agency recommends corrective action be taken. After testing with a digital radon detector, the Grubers installed a radon mitigation system, which removes the gas.

More Siouxland homeowners are testing for radon, said Michelle Clausen Rosendahl, director of Environmental Services for the Siouxland District Health Department.