Radon warning: Homeowner urges others to test for gas

Originally published at KTUU NBC2

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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Selling or staying put, radon is a gas that one Eagle River homeowner says needs to be on the radar.

"When we bought the home we did ask about radon and we were told it wasn't an issue here and unfortunately, we trusted," Angela Unruh and her family have lived in the same home for the past 12 years.

"I bought like a $20.00 at home kit to test here at home. You put it in the lowest level living area for 6 months. I got the results back this last week and when I opened it up I thought this has to be wrong. There's no way our levels could be this high. I thought it was a defective test," she said.

Unruh says a home test kit for radon turned up a 12 rating. A second test from a home inspector resulted in a 10 —meaning the Unruh family home has nearly four times as much radon exposure as the Environmental Protection Agency's recommendation before beginning a mitigation plan; which is currently the only way to manage living with the gas.

"The hardest part for me is being a parent I want to protect my kids and I'm honestly kicking myself for knowing that radon was an issue in Colorado and not testing when we moved in here. My kids have grown up in this house, who knows what the damage will be to their lungs."

The State Department of Epidemiology says radon is the leading cause of lung cancer in non-smokers in the United States. "The problem with radon is it damages the tissue, the supple interior tissue in the lungs and that damage stays with a person. It might be when they move out of the situation when they're not exposed to the radon again that the damage was small enough that it's not going to cause a growing cancer problem," Art Nash with the UAF cooperative extension said.

The State of Alaska doesn't currently require radon specific testing before purchasing a home. Nash says Alaskans should test their homes every few years, especially because of the seismic activity here. "You may have had something open up and if you have cracks in the foundation in your house it could sneak up after an earthquake or flooding," he said.

For more information on requesting a free radon test kit from the EPA click here.

Date : 6/15/2018

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