January is Radon awareness month. Radon is estimated to cause around 21,000 lung cancer deaths in the United States every year and is the second leading cause of lung cancer, according to the U.S Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
Radon is a naturally occurring radioactive gas that can get trapped in homes and buildings and expose the people who live and work inside, increasing their risk of developing lung cancer later in life. This risk is even higher among those who smoke cigarettes.
Radon Awareness in January
The good news is that exposures to high levels of radon are preventable. January Radon Awareness month is about risks and encourages prevention by highlighting different themes.
Get the Radon Facts:
Radon is an odorless and invisible radioactive gas released from rocks, soil, and water. Radon can get into your home and build up. Over time breathing in high radon levels can cause lung cancer.
When you breathe in radon, radioactive particles from the decay of radon gas can get trapped in your lungs. It takes many years for lung cancer to develop.
Most people don’t have symptoms until lung cancer is advanced and at that point it is harder to treat. For these reasons, it is important to take steps to reduce radon exposure throughout your life to help prevent lung cancer.
Learn the Radon Risks:
Radon causes about 21,000 lung cancer deaths each year, according to the EPA. Smoking & radon exposure increases the risk of lung cancer. Call 1-800-QUIT-NOW for help quitting smoking.
After smoking, radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States. Nationally, nearly 1 out of 15 homes has high radon levels. In Utah, 1 out of 3 homes has high, or dangerous, radon levels.
Here are factors that increase your risk of getting lung cancer from radon:
- High radon levels in your home or another building that you regularly spend time in
- High radon levels in the part of the home or building where you spend the most time (Radon levels are often higher in basements and lower levels)
- Smoking cigarettes, currently or in the past
- Burning wood, coal, or other substances that add particles to air
Keep Schools Safe from Radon:
Radon is a natural gas that can build up inside any building and can cause lung cancer. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommends testing all schools for radon. Teachers can educate kids about radon with resources from the EPA. Kids can take home what they learn and may even help protect their families from lung cancer.
Ask if your patients have tested their homes for radon and share information about the risks and prevention. View new guidance for healthcare providers from the Conference of Radiation Control Program Directors. Healthcare providers, Radon can cause lung cancer in anyone. If your patient smokes, it is even more important to make sure they are aware of the risks of radon.
Test Your Home for Radon this January
Testing your home is the only way to know if radon levels are high. You and your family could be at risk for lung cancer from radon.
You should test your home’s radon levels –
- It’s never been tested or radon levels are unknown
- When preparing to buy or sell
- Before and after any renovations, especially after making any repairs to reduce radon levels
- Before making any lifestyle changes in the home that would cause someone to spend more time in the basement or lower level (like converting a basement to a bedroom)
Radon is measured in units of picocuries per liter (pCi/L) of air. It is naturally found in outdoor air at very low levels and some radon will always be in your indoor air. According to the EPA, the average radon level in American homes is about 1.3 pCi/L (1 in 15 homes have dangerous levels of radon). Utah is one of the highest concentrations of radon of any state in the U.S. (with 1 in 3 homes having dangerous levels of radon).
The EPA recommends contacting a licensed professional to install a radon reduction system if your radon level is at or above 4 pCi/L of air. The EPA also recommends taking action to reduce radon if your radon level is from 2 pCi/L through 4 pCi/L. There is no known safe level of radon so you should always aim to have the lowest radon levels to reduce the risk of lung cancer.
Test Your Home or School for Radon
Get your home or school tested this January, Radon awareness month. Get a Radon Test Kit today.