24 Oct

MetroBoston Publication Date October 24, 2012
By Attorney George Warshaw

I received an email from a reader of this column that stunned me.

Her house, like many others that have a radon remediation system, uses a fan to draw and vent radon that enters the house back to the outside.  What happens if the fan stops working? In the reader’s case, the fan was in the attic and was plugged into an ordinary outlet.

When her fan stopped working radon levels in the house went from below the federal 4.0 safety standard to above 20.0 for several years. The 4.0 federal safety level, as readers of this column now know, isn’t all that safe (please see

At a 20.0 level, the government predicts that 35 nonsmokers and 180 smokers out of a thousand will get lung cancer from radon. If you are genetically susceptible, or haven’t always lived in the best environment, you may be as vulnerable as smokers to radon.

The reader developed Stage IV lung cancer. Can it be attributed solely to radon? Perhaps not; but the radon certainly didn’t help and may have accelerated the problem.

She asked me to pass this along: get your vent fan hard-wired into the electrical system. Don’t just plug it into an outlet where a malfunction might not be noticed. © 2012 George Warshaw.

George Warshaw is a real estate attorney and author. He represents buyers and sellers of homes and condos in Massachusetts, and prepares wills, trusts, and estate plans. George welcomes new clients and questions at



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