Radon Health Risks

Prolonged exposure to high concentrations of radon gas is the leading cause of lung cancer in non-smokers. For smokers, the risk of developing lung cancer is dramatically increased when exposed to even moderate concentrations of radon gas. According to the Surgeon General, not enough citizens are aware of the dangers or consider themselves at risk. Over the past decade, the EPA and dozens of other organizations including the American Lung Association, have escalated public awareness campaigns to educate both adults and children to the health risks associated with radon gas.

According to the EPA, studies find direct evidence linking radon in homes to lung cancerTwo studies show definitive evidence of an association between residential radon exposure and lung cancer. Two studies, a North American study, and a European study, both combined data from several previous residential studies. These two studies go a step beyond earlier findings.

They confirm the radon health risks predicted by occupational studies of underground miner’s who breathed radon for a period of years. Early in the debate about radon-related risks, some researchers questioned whether occupational studies could be used to calculate risks from exposure to radon in the home environment. “These findings effectively end any doubts about the risks to Americans of having radon in their homes,” said Tom Kelly, Director of EPA’s Indoor Environments Division. “We know that radon is a carcinogen. This research confirms that breathing even low levels of radon can lead to lung cancer.”

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