Radon, a toxic gas that often lurks in basements, is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the US. 

7 Investigates found recent rainfall is making the threat posed by radon even worse.

“My situation could be anyone’s situation,” said Lindi Campbell, a lung cancer survivor.

Campbell was stunned when she found out her childhood bedroom in her parents’ basement may have made her sick.  

“We played down there,” she said. “We watched TV down there.”

Years after moving out, Campbell was diagnosed with lung cancer. She had never smoked.

She had the bedroom tested for radon, a naturally occurring odorless and colorless gas that forms when uranium in rock and soil break down. The gas seeps into the lower levels of homes through foundations.

“That exact room tested 21.6 picocuries which is the toxicity level equivalent to smoking 40 cigarettes a day,” Campbell said.

7 Investigates found one in four Massachusetts homes has high radon levels.

Experts warn recent heavy rains may have made the problem worse.  

“If you have a high level of humidity and heavy rains, that can tend to increase radon levels,” said Morgan Cohen, the owner of MKC Associates Home Inspection

Cohen is a certified radon tester. He said homeowners should check for radon every two years or immediately if the land around their home has changed. 

“If they repave the road, put in a new water line, put in a new gas line, something like that is going to potentially affect how radon moves through the ground and it might affect how it gets into your home,” Cohen said. 

Cohen said winter weather also impacts radon levels.

“In the wintertime, you have all your doors and windows closed, you’re going to have more air trapped in your home so, you’re going to have more potential for radon exposure,” Cohen said.

The EPA says any home with radon levels more than four picocuries per liter should install radon mitigation systems.

“That’s typically done by putting a PVC pipe through the floor in the basement and running it up typically outside the home,” Cohen said.

The Massachusetts Department of Public Health believes the average Massachusetts home has 3.2 picocuries of radon.

Homes in Worcester, Middlesex and Essex County have the highest chance of dangerous radon levels.

“You don’t know it’s there,” Cohen said. “You don’t feel it. The only way to know is to test if it’s there.”

Whether your home is new or old or was designed to resist radon, the gas can still seep in. Keeping it in check can save a life.

“It’s too late for me,” Campbell said. “That exposure happened.”

“It’s time that you do something to protect the people where it’s not too late,” Campbell continued.

Radon testing can be done through a licensed specialist or on your own. If you choose to do it yourself, make sure you are following all of the proper protocols to ensure you are getting the most accurate test results.

Experts say tests should run for 48 hours but, the longer the test is, the more accurate the results will be.

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