The Link between Radon and Lung Cancer
It is widely known that the major cause of lung cancer is smoking. However, there is another leading cause of lung cancer that may be surprising. The EPA estimates that the number one cause of non-smokers getting lung cancer is radon, causing 21,000 lung cancer deaths every year. According to the American Lung Association, radon is a colorless, tasteless and odorless gas that causes lung cancer. The EPA states that radon can be found in indoor air, in soil under homes and in drinking water.
Radon can be found in all different types of residential and commercial buildings in the United States. Typically, through drains, cracks or other holes in the foundation, radon moves into a home. Radon can damage your lung tissue due to the radioactive particles it dissolves into that can become trapped in your lungs. The higher the level of radon present in your home the more you breathe in, which can lead to increasing your risk of developing lung cancer.
While you may not be able to avoid radon exposure completely, there are some things you can do to lower your exposure. The only way to detect radon in your home is to test the air. There are many different types of do-it-yourself test kits that are widely available, simple to use and inexpensive. While long-term tests may be more accurate, short term tests can typically take two to seven days before the testing period is complete, then you are able to send the test to a laboratory for an analysis. According to the American Cancer Society, you can also hire a professional to test the radon levels in your home. The American Cancer Society has put together a list of qualified contractors in every state that can test your home here. If you are building a new home, you can inquire with your contractor about installing radon-resistant features. If you are concerned about radon levels in your workplace, contact your safety officer and inquire about the testing of your workplace for radon. While radon cannot be completely avoided, these measures can help to greatly decrease your intake of radon over time.
For additional information or concerns about your lungs, please contact your primary care provider for an appointment.