Lung cancer survivor and former Olympic hockey player warns of radon gas that could be hiding in your home

Posted at 6:58 AM, Jan 28, 2020
and last updated 2020-01-28 18:00:12-05

CANTON, Ohio — Every year, an invisible gas causes an estimated 21,000 lung cancer deaths in America, according to the EPA, and is the leading cause for non-smokers.

It’s called radon — and it’s a very real, very dangerous problem here in Northeast Ohio, because of the amounts of uranium our homes and buildings sit on.

This map shows just how high the concentrations are in our area.

And since you can’t see, smell, or taste radon, sometimes it can fall under the radar.

Rachael Malmberg was just 31 years old when she was diagnosed with Stage 4 lung cancer.

The ex-Olympic hockey player thought she had always done everything right.

“I didn’t fit any of the mold. People think lung cancer, they think smoker or secondhand smoke or older with asbestos and I didn’t fit any of that mold,” Malmberg said.

But after doing research, Malmberg decided to test her current home for radon.

She also went back and tested her childhood home.

Results from both showed high levels of the poisonous gas.

“I have a true story, I’m a living example of the causes that radon has on people so it is super important for me to pass that along,” Malmberg said.

Jessica Karns is with A-Z Solutions, a company does testing and radon mitigation in Northeast Ohio and around the country.

“It comes in through the foundation, it comes in through cracks in the basement, conduits, sump pumps, dirt crawl spaces,” Karns explained.”It follows the path of least resistance so it’s going to find a way into your home.”

January is actually Radon Action Month and the state wants to remind you to do just that — take action and keep your family safe.

You should be testing your home every two years, or after any renovations. You can purchase an at-home test at hardware stores and send them in for testing, or have a contractor come out and do the test for between $120 and $170.

The Ohio Department of Health also offers free testing kits for families with an income less than $80,500. You can click here to order a free test.

If you do find elevated levels, you can get a radon mitigation system, which runs about $1,000.

“It’s totally preventable. it is one of the things you can control about your own health,” Karns said.

“I think if anything its worth the testing and the cost up front to protect yourself and your family for a long-term life,” Malmberg added.

And it’s something to keep in mind before renting or buying a home — testing is not required in the state of Ohio.

RELATED: Northeast Ohio radon contamination still a big health issue