Three years ago, Donna Welch started having health problems. That's when she tested her well water for lead, mercury, and arsenic. She didn't tested for uranium. The thought never crossed her mind until recently, when other Monroe County residents found high levels in their wells.
"You used to enjoy a long hot shower, but now you're thinking 'oh my gosh' I'm breathing in all this stuff," says Welch.
She's referring to the natural gas radon. It's in her air, it's in her water, and it's coming from the high levels of uranium also present in her drinking water.
"The UGA water lab called me and told us that the uranium level in our well was the second highest in the state of Georgia," says Welch.
For Welch, testing her water didn't provide an answer to her unexplained case of peripheral neuropathy which caused a loss of feeling in her feet. According to Dana Lynch, a County Extension Agent for UGA, the only known medical problem uranium is linked to is kidney malfunction.
"If there is more to this, we don't know how long it takes for it to affect somebody as far as more health issues beyond what they're saying."
Welch says her doctor at the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, FL believes uranium may be the cause of her problems.
"He said well uranium is a heavy metal, so is lead and mercury that can cause neuropathy with the feet. He said if we could determine that there is uranium in your body, we might be able to connect the dots."
Her level is off the charts.
"The highest level on the chart is 0.059, and the uranium in my hair measured at 6.8213."
Until there is a proven link, Welch can only hope that more research will bring her peace of mind.
"The hardest thing with my medical issues has been not having an answer."
Welch says in order to rid her home of these chemicals it's going to cost anywhere from eight to ten thousand dollars. She says the cost of her life is worth the price. According to the National Institute of Cancer, Radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States.