Radon
(A Citizen's Guide to Radon)

The Guide to Protecting Yourself and Your Family From Radon

Radon facts*

*Radon facts medical author:

  • Radon is a radioactive gas that is known to cause cancers.
  • Radon causes about 21,000 lung cancer deaths each year in the U.S.
  • Radon is produced from the natural breakdown of uranium in soil, rock and water.
  • Radon is found all over the U.S. It can be detected in any type of building - homes, offices, and schools.
  • It is impossible to smell or taste radon.
  • Radon enters a home through cracks and other holes in the foundation. It builds up inside buildings.
  • Nearly 1 out of every 15 homes in the U.S. is estimated to have elevated radon levels.
  • Testing for radon is easy. Both short-term and long-terms testing devices are available.
  • It is possible to reduce radon levels in the home if they are found to be elevated.

EPA Recommends for Radon

  • Test your home for radon - it's easy and inexpensive.
  • Fix your home if your radon level is 4 picocuries per liter, or pCi/L, or higher.
  • Radon levels less than 4 pCi/L still pose a risk, and in many cases may be reduced.

Radon is estimated to cause thousands of lung cancer deaths in the U.S. each year.

Radon is estimated to cause thousands of lung cancer deaths in the U.S. each year
Radon is estimated to cause thousands of lung cancer deaths in the U.S. each year.

* Radon is estimated to cause about 21,000 lung cancer deaths per year, according to EPA's 2003 Assessment of Risks from Radon in Homes (EPA 402-R-03-003). The numbers of deaths from other causes are taken from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's 2005-2006 National Center for Injury Prevention and Control Report and 2006 National Safety Council Reports.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 5/20/2012

Are You Exposed to Radon in Your Home or Workplace?

Exposure to Radon Causes Lung Cancer In Non-smokers and Smokers Alike

Lung cancer kills thousands of Americans every year. Smoking, radon, and secondhand smoke are the leading causes of lung cancer. Although lung cancer can be treated, the survival rate is one of the lowest for those with cancer. From the time of diagnosis, between 11 and 15 percent of those afflicted will live beyond five years, depending upon demographic factors. In many cases lung cancer can be prevented.

Smoking is the leading cause of lung cancer. Smoking causes an estimated 160,000* cancer deaths in the U.S. every year (American Cancer Society, 2004). And the rate among women is rising. On January 11, 1964, Dr. Luther L. Terry, then U.S. Surgeon General, issued the first warning on the link between smoking and lung cancer. Lung cancer now surpasses breast cancer as the number one cause of death among women. A smoker who is also exposed to radon has a much higher risk of lung cancer.

Radon is the number one cause of lung cancer among non-smokers, according to EPA estimates. Overall, radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer. Radon is responsible for about 21,000 lung cancer deaths every year. About 2,900 of these deaths occur among people who have never smoked. On January 13, 2005, Dr. Richard H. Carmona, the U.S. Surgeon General, issued a national health advisory on radon. Read a study by Dr. William Field on radon-related lung cancer in women at www.cheec.uiowa.edu/misc/radon.html.

Secondhand smoke is the third leading cause of lung cancer and responsible for an estimated 3,000 lung cancer deaths every year. Smoking affects non-smokers by exposing them to secondhand smoke. Exposure to secondhand smoke can have serious consequences for children's health, including asthma attacks, affecting the respiratory tract (bronchitis, pneumonia), and may cause ear infections.

SOURCE:
EPA.gov. Radon (Rn) Health Risks.


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