Radon is potentially responsible for more deaths than homicide, drunk driving, and AIDS.

Radon is a Class “A” human carcinogen responsible for an estimated 21,000 U.S. lung cancer deaths per year.  The United Nation’s World Health Organization (WHO) advises that radon is a worldwide health risk in homes.  Dr. Maria Neira of the WHO has stated, “Most radon-induced lung cancers occur from low and medium dose exposures in people’s homes.  Radon is the second most important cause of lung cancer after smoking in many countries.”   Radon is also the leading cause of lung cancer in non-smokers.   Comparatively, smoking causes an estimated 160,000 lung cancer deaths in the U.S. every year.  (American Cancer Society, 2004)  And, if you are a current smoker exposed to indoor radon gas concentrations, the risk of developing lung cancer increases exponentially.

In January of 2005, U.S. Surgeon General, Richard H. Carmona, issued a Health Advisory Warning, advising Americans of the health risks caused by exposure to radon in indoor air.  Dr. Carmona urged Americans to test their homes to learn how much radon they may be breathing.  He further stressed the need to remedy the problem as soon as possible when the radon level is 4 picocuries (pCi/L) or more.

Radon has also been associated with Thyroid Cancer, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s Disease, Leukemia and Multiple Sclerosis.

For more information, please see:

U.S. EPA Radon Health Risks
U.S. EPA Citizen’s Guide to Radon
WHO Radon Handbook
Illinois Emergency Management Agency, Division of Nuclear Safety Radon Resources

Radon Risks If You Smoke:

From: A Citizen’s Guide to Radon: The Guide to Protecting Yourself and Your Family From Radon

Radon Level If 1,000 people who smoked were exposed to this level over a lifetime*… The risk of cancer from radon exposure compares to**… WHAT TO DO:
Stop smoking and…
20 pCi/L About 260 people could get lung cancer 250 times the risk of drowning Fix your home
10 pCi/L About 150 people could get lung cancer 200 times the risk of dying in a home fire Fix your home
8 pCi/L About 120 people could get lung cancer 30 times the risk of dying in a fall Fix your home
4 pCi/L About 62 people could get lung cancer 5 times the risk of dying in a car crash Fix your home
2 pCi/L About 32 people could get lung cancer 6 times the risk of dying from poison Consider fixing between 2 and 4 pCi/L
1.3 pCi/L About 20 people could get lung cancer (Average indoor radon level) (Reducing radon
levels below 2 pCi/L is difficult.)
0.4 pCi/L About 3 people could get lung cancer (Average outdoor radon level)
Note: If you are a former smoker, your risk may be lower.
* Lifetime risk of lung cancer deaths from EPA Assessment of Risks from Radon in Homes (EPA 402-R-03-003).
** Comparison data calculated using the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s 1999-2001 National Center for Injury Prevention and Control Reports.

Radon Risks If You’ve Never Smoked:

Radon Level If 1,000 people who never smoked were exposed to this level over a lifetime*… The risk of cancer from radon exposure compares to**… WHAT TO DO:
20 pCi/L About 36 people could get lung cancer 35 times the risk of drowning Fix your home
10 pCi/L About 18 people could get lung cancer 20 times the risk of dying in a home fire Fix your home
8 pCi/L About 15 people could get lung cancer 4 times the risk of dying in a fall Fix your home
4 pCi/L About 7 people could get lung cancer The risk of dying in a car crash Fix your home
2 pCi/L About 4 person could get lung cancer The risk of dying from poison Consider fixing between 2 and 4 pCi/L
1.3 pCi/L About 2 people could get lung cancer (Average indoor radon level) (Reducing radon levels below
2 pCi/L is difficult.)
0.4 pCi/L (Average outdoor radon level)
Note: If you are a former smoker, your risk may be higher.
* Lifetime risk of lung cancer deaths from EPA Assessment of Risks from Radon in Homes (EPA 402-R-03-003).
** Comparison data calculated using the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s 1999-2001 National Center for Injury Prevention and Control Reports.

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