COTTONWOOD HEIGHTS � Charlie McQuinn never smoked a single day in his life. Yet, he wound up with lung cancer.
The culprit, he and his doctors believe, is radon gas.
Harmful levels of the radioactive vapor � more than double the acceptable standard � were detected in the basement of his home earlier this year. The 71-year-old has since had half of one of his lungs removed and is now cancer-free. But he says he wouldn't wish lung cancer on anyone, and he advises everyone he knows to test their homes for radon.
"I had heard about it before, but I never thought much about it," McQuinn said. "People here spend a lot of time and effort focusing on preparedness and having food and water storage, but as a community, we haven't focused on radon, which might end up being the biggest disaster of all."
Potentially harmful levels of the radioactive vapor is present in at least one of three homes in the state of Utah and about 17,500 homes have been professionally tested so far. Radon gas is the second-leading cause of lung cancer nationwide, accounting for an estimated 15,000 to 22,000 lung cancer deaths each year, according to the American Lung Association. Nonsmokers make up 2,900 of those who die each year from lung cancer.
As such, officials say that breathing radon over prolonged periods of time can present a significant risk to families...
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