Does Radon Really Cause Lung Cancer? (Infographic)
Yes, radon is one of the leading causes of lung cancer. According to the American Lung Association, radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States. The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that it causes more than 21,000 lung cancer deaths each year. Radon can be a serious health risk, yet many individuals are unaware of what radon is and the possible long-term effects it can have on their health. Continue reading to learn more.
What is Radon?
Radon is an invisible, odorless, and tasteless gas that is radioactive. It naturally occurs during the decay of uranium, thorium and radium, generally found in rocks and soil. Normally it seeps up through the ground and diffuses into the air and surface water. Long-term exposure to radon has been known to cause lung cancer.
How Are People Exposed to Radon?
The main way radon enters homes is through the sump pump. Radon at low levels is not as harmful, but if it enters the basement and there is no fresh air circulating levels can rapidly increase to dangerous rates. Radon also seeps into homes through cracks in walls or the foundation. For this reason homes that have an in ground basement generally have increased levels of radon.
Due to the landscape and soil composition in Iowa, along with the fact that the majority of homes contain in ground basements, the EPA has stated that the entire state of Iowa is considered to be high risk for radon gas in homes. Commercial buildings, schools and other in ground structures with poor ventilation are also susceptible to increased levels of radon in the air.
Does Radon Lead to Lung Cancer?
Long term exposure to high levels of radon has been tied to lung cancer and is now the second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States. You may be wondering how this occurs and, surprisingly, the process is actually quite simple. The microscopic radon particles are inhaled and as they travel through the body get stuck in the lining and tissue of the lungs. From there they continue to breakdown into other radioactive elements; this process damages the cells of the lung and can eventually lead to lung cancer.
While smoking is by far the most common cause of lung cancer in the United States, for non-smokers radon is the leading cause. Individuals who are exposed to both radon and smoke are at a much greater risk than individuals only exposed to one of the elements.
How Can I Avoid Radon Poisoning?
There are many options available for testing your home to ensure the level of radon falls within the acceptable range. These options range from do-it-yourself testing kits to tests conducted by professional contractors.
If you find that your home does have higher levels of radon exposure than desired, there are steps that can be taken to reduce the levels present. For starters, sealing up cracks in the walls and foundation can help block additional radon from entering your home. There are also ventilation systems that can help circulate fresh air into your home and dilute the levels of radon present or remove it from your sump pump area before it enters the rest of your home.
The caring staff at the John Stoddard Cancer Center continues to lead the way with the best cancer care in Iowa. For more information about lung cancer contact the experts at John Stoddard today.