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Iowa Radon Coalition

'No one should get lung cancer from radon'

'No one should get lung cancer from radon'

A two-year lung cancer survivor, Gail Orcutt has shared her story many times, with one unexpected detail — she’s never smoked. Her cancer was attributed to prolonged exposure to radon — a colorless, odorless, tasteless radioactive gas produced from the decay of naturally occurring uranium in the soil.

“Iowans are in so much danger, and they don’t know it,” Orcutt said. “This has got to be the most preventable type of cancer there is. No one should get lung cancer from radon.”

Orcutt was diagnosed in May 2010 after suffering a cough and wheeze believed to be from allergies. Secondhand smoke was one cause physicians considered until Orcutt read a magazine article about radon. That led her to test her Pleasant Hill home.

The results came back at 6.9 pCi/L. The Environmental Protection Agency recommends homes with levels above 4 install radon-mitigation systems. In Iowa, seven of 10 homes have levels above that — the highest in the U.S.