The Dangers of Radon in Pittsburgh: One Family’s Story

By Zan Kail of Home Radon Pros January 27, 2021

You have probably heard of carbon monoxide, a dangerous gas that claims almost 400 lives every year. But as dangerous as carbon monoxide is, it often overshadows an even deadlier gas that you may not have heard of. This gas is in every household and claims over 21,000 American lives every single year. That gas is called Radon, and in 2017, my family was part of the 21,000 statistic.

My grandmother, who had never smoked a cigarette a day in her life, was diagnosed with stage four lung cancer at the age of 69. The news was devastating, and after a few years of battling, in 2017 she passed away. Heartbroken, my family struggled with what could have caused the cancer. After talking with her doctors, they informed us that the cancer could have been caused by Radon, a deadly cancer causing gas that is prominent in homes within the Pittsburgh area.  

What is Radon?

We began our search with understanding what exactly Radon is. We discovered, through researching information from the DEP and EPA, that Radon is a dense noble gas that comes from the breakdown of elements in the soil. Since soil is all around us, Radon is a gas literally everywhere, but concentrates in confined areas like mines or the basement of a home. The gas seeps into a home through small cracks in the foundation and then spreads throughout the rest of the house. What makes Radon deadly is that it is odorless, colorless, and tasteless, making it undetectable by human senses. 

We found out that Radon causes cancer by breaking down the cells of the inner lining of the lungs when inhaled. Being a factor of level of exposure over time, we learned that the amount of Radon you are exposed to and how often, determines your risk to Radon induced lung cancer. The risk of lung cancer from Radon is so serious that the surgeon general has classified it as a Class A carcinogen.

After learning what Radon is and where it comes from, we wanted to know if my grandmother’s home, located in Washington County where she lived for over 40 years, was at risk of high levels of Radon.

How do you test for Radon?

Our next step was to set up Radon testing in my grandmother’s home. We searched extensively for a company that could perform Radon testing in Pittsburgh and surrounding areas, but struggled finding one that would answer the phone, call us back, or even show up. After eventually finding a Radon company to conduct the testing, we were given results that shocked us. The home she was living in tested three times over the EPA recommended level of action for Radon. 

When a Radon test is done in your home, a Radon professional will set up either a charcoal test or use a continuous Radon monitor to get hourly data. The Radon testing devices measure the amount of Radon that is in the air through the measurement of picocuries per litre of air, or pCi/L. The EPA recommends that any home over 4.0 pCi/L should have Radon mitigation action taken in order to get the levels down to safer conditions. 

We were still unsure of what this level meant to us, and continued our research. We uncovered some seriously disturbing results of how much radiation someone living in a 4.0 home was exposed to. The chart below breaks down the radiation equivalents. 

Radon in Pittsburgh

Although my grandmother’s house had high levels of Radon, we wanted to understand if this was a rare occurrence or if it was a problem that more people around us faced. After doing some research on the Radon levels in Pittsburgh, we discovered that western Pennsylvania has some of the highest average Radon levels in the country.

Washington County, where my grandmother’s home was located, had an average Radon level of 5.6 versus a national average of 1.3; Allegheny County was even higher at an average indoor level of 6.3. 

If the averages weren’t enough to scare us, we heard stories of some homes testing as high as 50 times the EPA recommended action level!

Home Radon Pros: Pittsburgh’s Radon Mitigation Company

Although there wasn’t anything that could bring my grandmother back, we were unhappy with how little our communities knew about the dangers of Radon, the difficulty in finding a good company to help solve the problem, and the fact that thousands of Pittsburgh families were at risk of facing the same turmoil ours did. 

My dad and I decided that our hometown needed an answer to its Radon problem and we decided to start Home Radon Pros, a Radon mitigation and testing company dedicated to protecting families, educating local communities, and assuring quality services.

Since 2017, we have been able to save thousands of families from the dangers of Radon in Pittsburgh, have worked with multiple schools and local businesses to keep children and employees safe, and have participated in several local events to promote Radon awareness. Taking pride in our Pittsburgh spirit, we use top of the line FESTA Radon fans that are manufactured locally here in Cranberry to ensure the families we service can sleep soundly at night knowing their home is safe from the dangers of Radon.

Whether you are a family who has been living in the same house for a number of years, or one that has recently moved into a brand new home, we recommend testing for Radon if you have not done so in the last two years. With us, we can complete Radon testing in your home in 48 hours using our advanced Continuous Radon Monitors to give you accurate readings of your home’s levels. If you have tested and are concerned with your results, we encourage you to look into Radon mitigation services to keep your loved ones safe. 

If you want to learn more about Radon or if you are interested in any of our Radon services, you can visit us online at, email us at, or call us at 412-584-0799. Home Radon Pros is locally owned and operated out of Peters Township.

Keep your family safe. Readers who mention the article will receive a $50 discount - Just mention you heard about Home Radon Pros through Macaroni Kid.