Radon: the second leading cause of lung cancer
Nothing is more important than our health. Here at Home Inspections Plus we want to help spread the word about the dangers of radon. EPA measurement maps show the entire Kenai Peninsula area here in Alaska is known to have elevated levels of radon gas coming right up out of the soil. No inhabited home should go untested, it’s just too high of a risk.
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.
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. 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
Two studies, a North American study and a European study, both combined data from several previous residential studies. These two studies go a step beyond earlier findings. They confirm the radon health risks predicted by occupational studies of underground miner’s who breathed radon for a period of years. Early in the debate about radon-related risks, some researchers questioned whether occupational studies could be used to calculate risks from exposure to radon in the home environment. “These findings effectively end any doubts about the risks to Americans of having radon in their homes,” said Tom Kelly, Former Director of EPA’s Indoor Environments Division. “We know that radon is a carcinogen. This research confirms that breathing low levels of radon can lead to lung cancer.”
Where does it come from?
Any home may have a radon problem.
Radon is a radioactive gas. It comes from the natural decay of uranium that is found in nearly all soils. It typically moves up through the ground to the air above and into your home through cracks and other holes in the foundation. Your home traps radon inside, where it can build up. Any home may have a radon problem. This means new and old homes, well-sealed and drafty homes, and homes with or without basements.
Radon from soil gas is the main cause of radon problems. Sometimes radon enters the home through well water (see EPA: Radon in water). In a small number of homes, the building materials can give off radon, too. However, building materials rarely cause radon problems by themselves.
What are the health effects from exposure to radon?
There are no immediate symptoms from exposures to radon. Based on an updated Assessment of Risk for Radon in Homes (see www.epa.gov/radon/risk_assessment), radon in indoor air is estimated to cause about 21,000 lung cancer deaths each year in the United States. Lung cancer is the only health effect which has been definitively linked with radon exposure. Lung cancer would usually occur years (5-25) after exposure. There is no evidence that other respiratory diseases, such as asthma, are caused by radon exposure and there is no evidence that children are at any greater risk of radon induced lung cancer than adults.