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August 3, 2021

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Radon and Lung Cancer

by Anne Paddock

Cancer is the second leading cause of death (after heart disease) in the US claiming approximately 600,000 lives annually.  Nearly 150,000 of those deaths are from lung cancer, which according to the American Cancer Society is more than breast, colon, and prostate cancer deaths combined.

Most people know that smoking causes lung cancer so when someone is diagnosed with lung cancer, they are shocked when a patient was a non-smoker.  What many people don’t know is that the second leading cause of lung cancer is radon:  a colorless, odorless, tasteless, and invisible gas that naturally occurs in the atmosphere (radon comes from the natural decay of the radioactive chemical elements uranium or thorium that are found in nearly all soils, according to the NIH).

Most radon exposure occurs inside homes, schools, and buildings when the radon gas becomes trapped indoors after it seeps through cracks and other holes in the foundation, according to the EPA.

So, how can you protect yourself from radon?  Have your home tested or buy a radon detector which will provide you with long term numbers/averages since radon levels vary, even from room to room.

37 states require radon disclosure during real estate transactions but pay attention to how long the test was done (i.e. 24 hours, 48 hours, etc) because longer readings give more accurate information.  If you’ve been in the same house for a long time or have no plans to move, this disclosure requirement doesn’t help so you need to ascertain the radon levels yourself (note:  there are various battery operated radon detectors for sale. I bought a Corentium Home Radon Detector by Airthings 223 that runs on 3 AAA batteries that sells for about $140 (available on Amazon).

In 2021, approximately 235,000 Americans will be diagnosed with lung cancer of which 20,000-40,000 happen to people who never smoked, according to the American Cancer Society.  Approximately 155,000 Americans will die of lung cancer in 2021, or about 425 a day.  The CDC says we have a 1 in 17 chance of getting lung cancer during our lifetime; higher if we smoked; lower if we haven’t; higher if we have been exposed to higher levels of radon; lower if we haven’t.  Take action and test your home, school, and buildings.

1 Comment Post a comment
  1. Mark Roalson
    Aug 3 2021

    The problem with addressing the radon issue is that there is no county, state or federal financial assistance for abatement, at least not here in Minnesota. It is very expensive to install radon abatement equipment in the home, all out of pocket or one must go into debt with a home improvement loan. Too bad Congress is busy with its own invasion investigation and most state legislatures are too “conservative” to give a damn to rectify the problem.
    MR

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