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Doctors urge testing for radon in homes

Doctors urge testing for radon in homes

UPPER SAUCON TWP., Pa. - The building boom is in full swing inside the Whispering Pines development in Upper Saucon Township, Lehigh County. It's also a hot spot for radon and where a new home recently had a reading of 6100 picocuries per liter, much higher than a safe level of four.

There is no law in Pennsylvania that requires radon testing, from a builder or homeowner.

The job supervisor at Judd Builders, however, said every new home it's building is tested for radon and mitigated, if needed.

It's a different story for Diane Peachey, who lives nearby. Her childhood home, which she now lives in with her own family, has never been tested.

"In this neighborhood, it's all older homes that have been here since the 60s. People here really don't think about it," she said.

The irony for Peachey is that she had radon mitigated from her home in Berks County 20 years ago and thought this area would be safe.

Radon, first discovered in Berks in the 1980s, is a colorless, odorless, tasteless natural gas, stemming from uranium and found in the soil.

"I think it's something people typically underestimate and don't really understand," said Dr. Dennis Sopka, Lehigh Valley Health Network.

Radon causes 15,000 cases of lung cancer each year, according to scientists. Sopka said the real concern is long-term exposure.

"Someone moving into a home recently. Yes, it's a problem, but not something you need to go running out to doctor right now," Sopka stated.

After eight years and with her kids being home schooled. Peachey said testing for radon is now at the top of her homework list.

"I think when my husband gets home, we will be talking about having it tested, because it's not healthy for you," she said.

The 6176 reading is the highest ever recorded on the planet, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection. Despite a line of thought that radon a hoax and not harmful, the DEP said it is real and it is harmful.


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