Radon turns family's dream home into nightmare - WSMV Channel 4

Radon turns family's dream home into nightmare

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A device similar to this is used to help remove radon gases from homes. A device similar to this is used to help remove radon gases from homes.
NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) -

You can't see it, smell it or taste it, but it kills 20,000 people each year, and there's a good chance Radon is in your home.

Radon is a radioactive gas that lurks under millions of homes in the United States. It's the second leading cause of lung cancer.

One family in Bellevue found out the hard way just how dangerous it can be. They also learned getting rid of it can be costly.

Ed Petterson and his wife Jane thought they had bought that perfect home in Bellevue four months ago.

“We wanted something quiet, serene and out of the way, and it had a nice view and good acoustics,” said Petterson.

But it wasn't long before their dream home turned into a nightmare.

“I started to get some symptoms, really heavy ringing in my ear and my brain and sinuses,” said Petterson. “We forgot to test for Radon and we tested for radon and boom it was off the charts. That went anywhere from a low of 417 to 537.”

The highest levels Keith Phillips with Franklin Environmental Services has seen in five years.

“That is like a coal mine,” said Phillips. “Extreme levels of radon.”

The Pettersons aren't alone. One in 15 homes have high levels of Radon, one reason why many state require testing.

“If it's over four ppica curries then it's mandatory that you do a mitigation,” said Phillips. “Tennessee is not one of those states.”

Dr. John Benitez, the managing director of the Poison Center at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, said prolonged exposure could cause major health problems down the road.

“Taking a whiff of it in your house by itself is not a problem,” said Benitez. “If you continue breathing that high concentration of Radon gas over time will develop radioactivity on your lungs.”

The Petterson's had blowers installed to pull the Radon out, an expensive lesson he hopes others won't have to learn the hard way.

“Just find out. Just be aware,” said Petterson.

Radon can seep into your home through cracks in the foundation walls and floors as well as fireplaces and construction joints.

A Radon test will cost about $75-$100. The Pettersons have already spent several thousand dollars mitigating the issue.

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