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Minnesota Cancer Survivor Warns Of Radon Dangers

BLAINE, Minn. (WCCO) – For years, former Gopher and USA hockey player Rachael Drazan Malberg divided her time between hockey rinks and home.

Never a smoker, she never dreamed she'd one day be diagnosed with stage-four lung cancer.

"When I first got diagnosed, it was not only disbelief but how was it possible? I didn't know," Malmberg said.

Two years after having part of a lung removed along with 22 lymph nodes and brain radiation treatments, Malmberg is fighting back. She is pleading with homeowners and school districts to test for deadly radon gas. It is estimated by the Minnesota Department of Health that 600 lung cancer deaths per year in the state can be attributed to radon exposure.

"But lung cancer – there is no cure. So why not take the opportunity to get educated, mitigate early and reduce your exposure to something that's the most deadly disease," Malmberg said.

At a conference of the American Association of Radon Scientists and Technologists held Monday in Blaine, experts wrestled with how to make radon awareness a priority.

"The average Minnesota home is testing at about 4.5 picocuries. And what that means is the average of smoking about nine cigarettes a day and that hits home with people," said Jesse Green, chapter president of AARST.

A growing radon concern is the threat the exposure poses to school children. Only a third of all districts in the state have been tested. Of those, 13% had at least one classroom with levels that would trigger immediate mitigation.

To Malmberg, it's a simple, inexpensive test that just makes sense.

"If you're talking cost of treatment versus testing, I guess it's like finding a penny on the street against taking out a $200,000 home mortgage. I'll spend that penny every day," the former Gopher and USA hockey player said.

For more information on getting your home tested, visit the Minnesota Department of Health website.

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