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Leading Cause Of Non-Smoking Lung Cancer Is Radon

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NESS
 

January 4, 2011 - January is National Radon Action Month and the U.S Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and eight other federal agencies are announcing a new effort to strengthen the fight against radon exposure.  

Radon exposure is the leading cause of non-smoking lung cancer. Senior leaders from the federal agencies are pledging to work together to create a national risk reduction plan for radon that will help save lives and create safer, healthier homes for all Americans. 

“Radon is a serious public health threat that leads to more than 21,000 deaths each year,” said Gina McCarthy, assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Air and Radiation. “This new federal partnership will help Americans reduce their risk of radon exposure.”

 

Radon is a naturally-occurring, invisible and odorless radioactive gas. One in 15 American homes contains high levels of radon. Millions of Americans are unknowingly exposed to this dangerous gas. By taking simple steps to test your home for radon and fix if necessary, this health hazard can be avoided.

Radon is a chemical element with symbol Rn and atomic number 86. It is a radioactive, colorless, odorless, tasteless noble gas, occurring naturally as the decay product of uranium. It is one of the densest substances that remains a gas under normal conditions and is considered to be a health hazard due to its radioactivity. Its most stable isotope, 222Rn, has a half-life of 3.8 days. Due to its intense radioactivity, it has been less well-studied by chemists, but a few compounds are known. 

Radon is formed as part of the normal radioactive decay chain of uranium. Uranium has been around since the earth was formed and its most common isotope has a very long half-life (4.5 billion years). Uranium, radium, and thus radon, will continue to occur for millions of years at about the same concentrations as they do now. 

Radon is responsible for the majority of the public exposure to ionizing radiation. It is often the single largest contributor to an individual's background radiation dose, and is the most variable from location to location. Radon gas from natural sources can accumulate in buildings, especially in confined areas such as attics, and basements. It can also be found in some spring waters and hot springs.

 

Epidemiological evidence shows a clear link between breathing high concentrations of radon and incidence of lung cancer. Thus, radon is considered a significant contaminant that affects indoor air quality worldwide. According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, radon is the second most frequent cause of lung cancer, after cigarette smoking, causing 21,000 lung cancer deaths per year in the United States.

If your home hasn't been tested for radon in the past two years, EPA and the Surgeon General urge you to take action. Contact your state radon office for information on locating qualified test kits or qualified radon testers. The federal commitment made by EPA, the General Services Administration, and the departments of Agriculture, Defense, Energy, Health and Human Services, Housing and Urban Development, Interior, and Veterans Affairs will focus efforts on radon reduction and mitigation in homes, especially those of low-income families, many of whom do not have the resources to make the simple fixes necessary to protect their homes and loved ones. 

 
   

At the end of January, the federal consortium will meet with key leaders in the public health, environmental and private sectors to begin shaping a national action plan that includes both immediate and long-term steps to reduce radon exposure.  More information on the joint federal initiative to reduce radon exposure, radon and testing your home. To find your state radon office

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