Radon Gas Exposure & PSP?

As most of you know, I've been blogging about the ongoing renovations to my former house since last October.

My house was just recently put on the market and sold for the asking price to my delight. However, when the buyers had the house inspected, very high levels of radon gas were detected in the basement. I'm still trying to obtain the precise measurements from my realtor.

I've been doing some research, and with some digging, found a possible link to at least Parkinson's and radon gas poisoning. My question is does anybody else know of a possible or direct link to radon gas poisoning and PSP?

What I've learned of radon since the issue came up, is it's a natural gas that arises from decaying soil. Old home and new homes can have high radon gas levels.

I became basically a shut-in from 2006 forward til we moved last October due to the numerous orthopedic surgeries I had and poor vision leading to cataract surgeries 2011. The visual symptoms began 2010 which is our mark with the start of my PSP. But from 2006 forward, I also fell into a severe depression with a great amount of apathy. Tho I had reasons for being depressed, those symptoms are also indicative of PSP. With all of these things combined, I seldom left the house.

I don't know how long the high levels of radon existed in that house. My oldest daughter had moved into her own apartment the last 2-1/2 years I lived there. My youngest lived with me but was seldom home, sometimes for days in a row. I often commented to my Mother if it was the house that was making me sick during my regression during those years. I was in and out of our local Home Depot and actually picked the test kits up for radon gas and mold poisoning, but never purchased them.

From what I've learned, the biggest symptom of exposure to radon gas poisoning is at a minimum, upper respiratory problems but often leads to lung cancer. I've had several chest x-rays over the last handful of years, and so far, so good.

I do intend to take this info to my Neurologist once I get the specific numbers and other related information. I also have serious issues with my central nervous and autonomic nervous systems. He believes they're PSP-driven.

But to the elusive cause of PSP, with an environmental factor triggering it being at the front of the list, I'm curious to get your input and responses.

Thanks in advance.


4 Replies

  • Oh, by-the-way...the high levels of radon gas in former house was a deal-breaker for the buyers; my realtor said they "freaked-out" when told about it. So it's back on the market. I'm currently looking into mitigating the radon problem, and from what I understand w/o having the specific numbers, it's severe enough that it will need a separate ventilation system, about $1,300-$1,500. It's always something, isn't it?:)

  • Most of our radon gas exposure comes from the ground under our homes and the products used in our building construction. Outdoor levels of radon present little problem. The levels in Australian homes are quite low compared with some countries, like the USA. In the USA, radon accounts for many thousands of lung cancers per year, particularly in smokers, for obvious reasons.

    I don't think there is any connection with radon and PSP. The radon gas is decaying constantly to some short lived alpha particle elements as it enters the lungs (alphas are the worst for tissue because they strongly ionise, that is, damage the DNA and cell structures). These minute particles tend to stick to the lining of the lung rather than carried to other places in the body, so result mostly in lung tissue damage over a period of many years. I don't think they cause any damage to areas that may influence the mechanisms involved in the development of PSP.

    Take care Judy and hope ventilation sorts out your radon problem (which is the usual remedy)

  • Hi Judy (again)

    Couldn't resist looking closer at your own research about Radon and Parkinson's. From a quick literature search it seems one scientific paper from North Dakota was written in 2000/2001 and seemed to resurface in 2009 in US newspapers etc. It stated that the levels of two radioactive decay products of Radon were 10 times higher in the brains of Alzheimer's and Parkinson's than controls. It pointed out that Radon gas can accumulate in lipids (quite true) and stays around in lipid rich organs like the brain. Then in the brain it decays to short lived alpha particle emitting radioisotopes, that can damage brain proteins (etc).

    There is still a lot of controversy over their conclusions, and the science world has to wait for other research centres to confirm their results.

    I actually read through their original scientific paper, and I would love to talk to them about the implications of their findings. Often when these things are reported in newspapers etc they only print some of the details and ignore parts of the study that should be mentioned. Even the authors admit that the distributuon of these extremely small amounts of the two isotopes was not consistent in their brain samples. However their results did show that the controls had virtually zero amounts, Parkinson's was a little above the controls, then came Alzheimers, then above all these was the level in smokers.

    Of course, tobacco contains the two isotopes they were measuring. The other query I would raise and not addressed in the study is the question of what drugs the Alzheimer's and Parkinson's were taken during their lifetime. This needed to be asked to exclude the possibility of the influence of these drugs.

    The other major thing they noted was the accumulation of these isotopes were more significant in the astrocyte cells which are more radiosensitive than the neurons which, of course, do not divide, and are known to be radioresistant. While astrocytes are damaged in PSP, the current thinking is the major problem in PSP is the damage to the neurons.

    Anyway, it's all very interesting, and this blog has kept me busy while my wife had her much needed afternoon sleep!


  • Glad to keep you busy, Strelley, not that you don't have much to do on your hands. That was a joke, perhaps a poor one; please take it in the spirit I intended.

    It was those articles upon further researching that I stumbled upon-it took some digging-tho they read above my head, the content which I clearly couldn't entirely embrace did seem to carry importance.

    Again, I'm not approaching this with the intention of solely figuring out my own problems, but the much bigger and elusive cause/trigger of PSP. When I found out there were high levels of radon in the lower area of the house, being almost entirely a shut-in for 7 years with possible exposure via ventilation systems, PROVIDING the house has had a consistently high radon gas reading which is unkown, I felt it still begged the question and was worthy of a look.

    I've since found out since I posted the blog a radon rating should be 2 but at the acceptable high end, 4; considered the safe end. My reading was "over 6". Don't know if that means it's in the 6 range or if it means higher. Also don't mean if 6 is a mark in which mitigative measure need to be taken or if 6 or higher is a real safety hazard.

    Again, my concern is if I was exposed to high levels over a period of time affecting my health, or if this reading is correct but just recent.

    We've hired a radon gas expert who will get in and due more testing. The numbers are important to me to run them pass my Neurologist. He may shrug his shoulders and say it's no big deal, but I want to know.

    Thanks for your time and insight on this issue.

    As always,

    Judy J

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