Troy

Radon Gas and Toxic Fumes Force Troy Family to Live in Trailer Outside Home

By: 
Contributor

Katrina Rende and her husband John have lived in their Troy home for more than 11 years. Along with their eight children, the couple never expected to deal with the harsh realities of toxic gas.

Before buying their home, the Rendes had been told that any issues with oil contamination had been cleaned up back in 2003, more than five years before they bought their home. Here, the MDEGLE confirmed that the previous owner closed an old radon gas sump pump, vented the soil, and removed an oil drum to rid the property of any contamination.

Unfortunately, the previous owner's efforts weren't good enough. While it's estimated that one in every 15 U.S. homes have radon levels at or above the EPA action level, the Troy home was ripe with radon gas and toxic fumes. Just like a smoke alarm can increase your chance of surviving a fire by 50%, a good radon detector should notify the family when levels get too high. Unfortunately, it was only when the Rende family first noticed the noxious of oil smell emanating from their basement on May 1 that they knew something was wrong. From there, firefighters tried unsuccessfully to remove the "crude oil-like" substance from the pump that was causing the smell.

It was later revealed that the sump pump had never been closed following the initial contamination issue back in 2003. Now, the family cannot stay in their house for more than 40 minutes at a time unless they want to suffer from the deleterious effects of radon gas.

Radon gas is known to cause more than 21,000 deaths as a result of lung cancer every year. As the leading cause of this type of cancer in non-smokers, it's essential that homeowners check their radon levels twice per year to ensure this invisible, odorless gas is properly mitigated.

As a result, the family of eight has been living in a 36-foot trailer in the property's driveway. Katrina notes that one of her children suffers from acute seizures when they're in contact with the gas. Her husband John is also a survivor of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, making him particularly sensitive to the gas.

But living in the trailer comes at a price: though it's much cheaper than staying in a hotel, the family still has to pay a land variance.

Worse yet, homeowner's insurance won't cover the costs of replacing furniture, most of which has been clogged with the noxious fumes. Even though 52% of people don't have a clear understanding of their insurance coverage, in this case, the Rende family has explored all their options. After MDEGLE cleaned up the contamination by sealing the pump and venting the area, the air inside the home is still hurting the lives of the Rende family.

For now, the family only uses their home for essential tasks like bathing and cooking. While helpful donors were able to secure the family passes to the Boys & Girls Club of Troy, the family still needs assistance cleaning and making their home habitable again. You can donate to their GoFundMe here, or access the link for more information.

For full story, pick up a copy of the MONTH XX issue of The Allegan County News/The Union Enterprise/The Commercial Record or subscribe to the e-edition.

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