Radon and lung cancer
What is radon and how could it affect my health?
What is Radon?
Radon is a colorless, odorless, radioactive gas. Radon gas in the soil and rock can move into the air and into underground water and surface water. Radon is present outdoors and indoors. It is normally found at very low levels in outdoor air and in drinking water from rivers and lakes. It can be found at higher levels in the air in houses and other buildings. Radon breaks down into solid radioactive elements called radon progeny. Radon progeny can attach to dust and other particles and can be breathed into the lungs.
How are people exposed to Radon? At home and in other buildings
For both adults and children, most exposure to radon comes from being indoors in homes, offices, schools, and other buildings. The levels of radon in homes and other buildings depend on the characteristics of the rock and soil in the area. According to the EPA, the average indoor radon level is about 1.3 picocuries per liter (pCi/L). People should take action to lower radon levels in the home if the level is 4.0 pCi/L or higher. The EPA estimates that nearly 1 out of every 15 homes in the United States has elevated radon levels.
Does Radon cause cancer?
Being exposed to radon for a long period of time can lead to lung cancer. Cigarette smoking is by far the most common cause of lung cancer in the United States, but radon is the second leading cause.
Can I avoid being exposed to Radon?
Radon is in the air we breathe, both indoors and out, so it isn’t possible to avoid it completely. But there may be things you can do to lower your exposure.
In the home
For most people, the largest potential source of radon exposure is in their home. You can check radon levels in your home to determine if you need to take steps to lower them. You can hire a professional to test radon levels in your home. Qualified contractors can be found through state radon offices, which are listed on the EPA website.
What should I do if I've been exposed to Radon?
There are no widely available medical tests to measure whether you have been exposed to radon. If you think you might have been exposed to high levels of radon over long periods of time, talk with your doctor about whether you should get regular health checkups and tests to look for possible signs of lung cancer.
Radon is a naturally occurring, radioactive gas
- Radon cannot be seen, smelled or tasted.
- Radon may seep into your home from rocks below.
- Radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer.
- Radon is dangerous, but it is even more harmful When you also smoke.
What you can do about radon
- Test your home for radon.
- Talk with your health care provider about the results.
- Fix your home if the radon levels are high by calling a certified radon professional.
- Tell your loved ones about the risk of radon and tobacco smoke.
For a radon test kit, call the Daviess County Environmental Department at 270-852-5571.