Environment: The Colorless, Odorless Killer

A million U.S. homes may be contaminated by deadly radon

When Stanley Watras, a Bechtel Group engineer assigned to the Limerick nuclear-power plant in Boyertown, Pa., set off radiation monitors last winter, that in itself was unusual. Nuclear-plant workers rarely come into contact with radioactive substances during their daily routine. What disturbed Watras even more was that he tripped the detectors not while he was leaving the nuclear complex but when he was entering it. As a result, he requested that Limerick's owner, Philadelphia Electric Co. (PECO), check radiation levels at his house in Colebrookdale, Pa., a few miles from the plant.

Five days later, PECO technicians took air samples at...

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