Gail Dobbs was diagnosed with lung cancer last year.
She didn’t smoke, and she didn’t have a family history of lung cancer.
What she had was prolonged exposure to high levels of the radioactive gas radon. It’s likely that thousands of other Georgians are being exposed, too.
“When you first get the diagnosis, it’s shocking,” said Dobbs, who is 59 and has lived in her Monroe home for 30 years. “You think … where could it possibly come from?”
Radon is an invisible and odorless gas that breaks down from uranium, granite, shale and phosphate and seeps into soil and water. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says it’s the leading cause of lung cancer in nonsmokers and causes up to 14 percent of all lung cancer deaths each year in the U.S. That’s about 22,000 people. Georgia leads the Southeast, according to the EPA, with an average of 822 deaths yearly.