Tripoli couple hopes to raise awareness of radon risk - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Tripoli couple hopes to raise awareness of radon risk

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TRIPOLI (KWWL) -

Radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer.  What's frightening, the gas can't be seen or smelled.  It's found naturally in the soil, and makes its way into homes.

The good news--there's a way to get rid of radon before it becomes a problem.  We caught up with a local couple affected by radon, who hope their story might help others.

Duane Buchholz knows he's lucky to be alive, after being diagnosed with stage four lung cancer last year.

"His prognosis was not very good," said Lavera Buchholz, Duane's wife.

When Duane was first diagnosed, it was quite a shock, especially since he's never been a smoker.  But doctors had a good idea of what might have caused his cancer.

"They said, 'Well have you ever check your house for radon?  That's the second leading cause of lung cancer,'" Duane Buchholz said.

So the Buchholzs' had their home tested.  It turned out the radon level was over four times the EPA's action level.  So they had a radon mitigation system installed.  It sucks the radon gas out of the ground from near the sump pump, and blows it out of the home through a pipe on the roof.

"I didn't realize radon was that deadly, and I didn't hear of radon gas until it happened to us," Lavera Buchholz said.

Lonnie Mallon installs the systems and is seeing business soar, as more people become aware of radon's risks, and that it's found in 70 percent of all Iowa homes.

"The radon system not only pulls radon out, it will also pull out extra moisture, which keeps the basement drier and lowers the risk of mold growth.  It also pulls anything else in the earth away from the house and keeps the basement area a lot fresher and more livable," said Lonnie Mallon, Radon Mitigation Specialist with Mallon Construction.

As for Duane Buchholz, he's doing well, but still takes a chemotherapy pill twice a day.  His wife Lavera now has to keep a close eye on her health, to make sure past radon exposure doesn't cause her to get sick, too.  They just hope sharing their story will encourage others to get their home tested, and take action to stop radon in its tracks.

"We hope we can curtail this for someone else, because if it saves even just one life, it's worth it," said Lavera Buchholz.

You can purchase a radon test kit for your home at many home improvement stores, and even through some local health departments for less than $20.  If your home's levels come back high, installing a radon mitigation system will cost you about a thousand dollars.  Of course, that's much less than the potential costs of treating cancer caused by radon exposure.

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