Athlete with lung cancer warns of radon levels in homes
A former member of team USA’s women's hockey team has a message for Saskatoon homeowners: get their homes tested for radon gas.
Rachael Malmberg was diagnosed with terminal cancer she believes is linked to the deadly gas in her home.
She was diagnosed with lung cancer two years ago at the age of 31.
Malmberg never smoked and was a member of team USA’s hockey team in 2010 – young, fit and healthy, Cancer was the furthest thing from her mind.
"High level athlete right. Healthy, continuing to exercise, eating well. Doing all the things they say to do to avoid something like cancer," said Malmberg, who spoke at the Canadian Association of Radon Scientists and Technicians conference in Saskatoon on Monday.
She said her doctors told her there was no identifiable cause for her lung cancer, However she had a feeling, so she and her husband tested their home and found unsafe levels of radon. The home she grew up in for 19 years also tested high.
"The initial diagnosis was a bit of a shock,” she told CTV News. “Not only for myself but for my family. The fear of, is mom going to be here to watch her little girl grow up."
Radon is a radioactive gas that's released from uranium that occurs naturally in the ground and can accumulate to high concentrations in homes. You can't see, smell or taste it, but it can damage your lungs and lead to cancer.
A person can have no smoking history and still be at risk for lung cancer because of their exposure to radon, said Pam Warkentin, executive director of the Canadian Association of Radon Scientists and Technicians.
Health Canada recommends buying a radon test and placing it in your home for three months before sending it to a lab to be tested.
"We encourage all Canadians to test. We know that there are homes in Saskatoon that have elevated levels," Warkentin said.
If the tests come back high, you can install a depressurization system for your home that uses a fan to draw out the soil gasses and exhaust them outside.