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What you can't see could still hurt you

Sticks and stones can break your bones, but names can never hurt you. While that point could well be argued we don't want to take on that task in this post. Rather, what we want to do is offer the observation that there are things we cannot see, feel, smell or hear that can hurt us.

There is, of course, carbon monoxide. And natural gas is so dangerous that we lace it with a chemical that makes it smell like rotten eggs. Without that we might be oblivious about gas leaks until it's much too late. And the same is true about radon gas.

For those who may be unfamiliar with this issue, radon is a gas that has no smell, odor or taste. It can't be seen, either. But what it can do is cause lung cancer if someone is exposed to it for too long. In fact, the federal Environmental Protection Agency says that studies have shown that radon is second only to cigarette smoking as a leading cause of lung cancer in the United States.

Radon is formed when uranium in the core of the earth decays. It seeps up to the surface. If it escapes into the outdoors, it's considered harmless because it dissipates in the air. But it can also creep into buildings where it can get trapped and rise to dangerous levels.

Here in Hartford County, officials have determined that the average indoor levels of radon vary widely. It is said to be less than 2 picocuries per liter, which is considered safe, in about 65 percent of buildings in the county. It averages between 2 and 3.9 in 17 percent of structures, which warrants a caution. And it averages 4 picocuries per liter and more in 18 percent of buildings.

That's in the danger zone and when testing shows such high levels, state law requires that property owners take measures to reduce radon levels to reduce the risk of harm to people.

Just because hazards aren't visible or felt doesn't mean they are not there and if they result in illness or injury, victims may be entitled to seek recovery for the damage suffered. Checking with an experienced attorney is recommended to determine if a case exists.

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