The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has declared January as National Radon Action Month.
Radon is an odorless, colorless, tasteless gas, which exists to some extent everywhere in North America and most places in the rest of the world. The level of radon gas varies dramatically based on the type of rocks and soil in a given area.
Radon has been identified as a cause of lung cancer. When in open spaces, radon is quickly diluted in air. However, when radon leaks into a confined space, such as a building or mine, the concentrations can reach high levels.
According to “World Health Organization Handbook on Indoor Radon: a Public Health Perspective”: “Radon is the second cause of lung cancer after smoking. Most of the radon-induced lung cancer cases occur among smokers due to a strong combined effect of smoking and radon.”
The EPA estimates that radon gas causes approximately 21, 000 lung cancer deaths annually. However, out of the 21, 000, it is estimated that only about 2, 900 were lifetime non-smokers.
What this means, is that it is very important for tobacco smokers to have a good understanding of the radon concentrations where they live and work. It is highly advisable that smokers have their homes tested for radon.
Of course, according to the Centers for Disease Control, smoking is still responsible for 80 to 90 percent of all lung cancer cases. So, there is an even more compelling reason to quit smoking independent of radon concerns. There was a good segment on NPR recently about smoking and radon.
While it is particularly important for smokers, The U.S. Surgeon General (and EPA) recommend that ALL homes (below the third floor) in the U.S. be tested for radon. Initial testing is inexpensive and easy. Many states have subsidized test kits – I just ordered one in California for $7. Typical mitigation costs, when excess radon concentrations are found, average about $1200.
January is National Radon Action Month (see the link for more information at the EPA's website).
If you smoke, quit.
Radon testing for your home is easy and cheap. Just do it.