OHA identifies many Portland neighborhoods as ‘high risk for rad - KPTV - FOX 12

OHA identifies many Portland neighborhoods as ‘high risk for radon’

Posted: Updated: Jan 22, 2016 08:38 PM

A recent report by the Environmental Protection Agency shows that Multnomah County has one of the highest rates of Radon in the Northwest.

A map of indoor radon risk levels shows high concentrations in much of the Portland metro area. The Oregon Health Authority identified a dozen metro area zip codes as high risk levels, along with other areas like Boring, Corbett, Scappoose and Banks.

Radon is a colorless, odorless gas that's occurs naturally, but can be very dangerous, especially when breathed in over time.

Portland resident Marlene MacEwan knows the danger all too well. She lost her husband to lung cancer, although he never smoked a day in his life.

“Bob was diagnosed with late stage lung cancer in July of 2003 and he immediately went on the internet and wanted to know why that would be as a non-smoker,” she explained. “And we didn’t know about radon at the time, it wasn’t in the media, it wasn't talked about."

After doing some research, the MacEwans had their Lake Oswego home tested for radon.

"He did the test and it came back at 57.2. I called the EPA and they said that was too high for our area," Marlene said.

That was about 14 times higher than what the EPA deems safe. The highest level of radon was in the basement, where Bob worked in his office.

The MacEwans’ calico cat also lived in the basement. She later developed cancer and died.

Marlene is now determined to get the word out about radon detection.

“It is the silent killer, its odorless, tasteless, you can’t see it,” she said. “It’s not like smelling natural gas, methane. There would be no reason for you to think it was there unless you tested it.”

There are several neighborhoods in the metro area that are at those low and moderate risk levels as well. Testing homes for radon is relatively inexpensive. A kit can be bought at a local home improvement store for about $15.

“Even if you're in a low or moderate area for radon levels, it’s still important to test your home,” Marlene warned. “Every home should be tested, whether it has a basement, slab, it should be tested.”

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