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Preaching Science. But not Practicing it.


The purchase process of my home was anything but smooth. I was the sole person vying for it because I began negotiating with the builder during the earliest stages of its remodeling, but he proved to be a bit of a prick and I, idyllic and ignorant about the home buying process. By the time it was over, I was in for a bit more than I had imagined and had given into a few demands that surfaced during my inspection beforehand.

One of the things I relented on asking for was a radon system. The builder said he'd hold at the price we agreed upon if I took care of it myself. I thought about it and agreed. Fast forward 8 months later and I'm just getting around to having one installed.

The EPA recommends having your house's radon levels addressed if they test above 4.0 pCi/L, mine is at 6.6. Not dramatic compared to many houses but the levels are elevated. The reason for this recommendation is that radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer behind smoking. Roughly 50,000 cases are caused a year.

The thing is, my relationship with Radon is a bit different than the average home buyer. While I'm fortunate -knock on wood- to not have had a family member or friend afflicted with lung cancer from Radon, I spent several months working with a local Radon business owner on how she might strengthen her business model and promote her business. We started out as two business people working together but by the end we were friends. I helped her build out marketing plan's and pitches for convincing people to have their house mitigated. I was informed and passionate about her business and the problem it solved. And yet here I sit without one in my own home.

While I am having this addressed in the near future, I look back on the decision to delay and ask, "why did I wait so long despite the danger I helped preach?" A 1999 study The Atlantic highlighted by Weinstein and Lyon shows people who are more optimistic, which I often am, tend to downplay their own risk in situations despite evidence. Perhaps this is in part why I neglected something like this.

While I hope to move through the rest of my life with a level of optimism and not overly paralyzed by fear, a friend of mine was recently diagnosed with cancer. It has left me asking myself, "What is my health worth to me? What would I give up?" The cost of a radon installation seems like a small price to pay.

Here's to not playing with fire... or in this case, Radon.


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