In 2018, an estimated 154,050 Americans will die from lung cancer . While many of them are current or former tobacco users, approximately 30,000 individuals will have never smoked or used any form of tobacco . So, how did these people, who had taken a significant precaution, develop lung cancer? According to the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), exposure to radon gas was the primary culprit.
Smokers exposed to radon also have a much higher risk of developing lung cancer . If an increased threat of lung cancer wasn’t enough to make you start thinking about the radon levels in your home, there are additional dangers. Here’s a quick look at several other illnesses associated with radon exposure and what you can do to reduce your risk.
What is Radon?
First, it’s important to know what radon is. Radon is a naturally occurring gas that is produced when radium, thorium, and uranium break down in rock, soil, and water. It is invisible, odorless, and tasteless. Whether your home is built on a foundation, crawl space or basement, there is a risk of radon exposure. Radon often accumulates in areas of poor ventilation, particularly buildings and homes that are well insulated or tightly sealed.
The Dangers of Radon
Due to their smaller lungs, children are more susceptible to radon than adults. This puts them at an increased risk of developing childhood acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) . However, the dangers of exposure start before these children are even born. Women who are exposed in the first six weeks of their pregnancy see the chances of their child developing leukemia and cancer increase by 50%.
Unfortunately, exposure to radon doesn’t produce any symptoms to alert you. Check out our Radon: Facts or Myths for more information. Only after 5 years or as many as 25 years will you begin to experience health problems from radon exposure. These problems may include a persistent cough, wheezing that doesn’t go away, shortness of breath, hoarseness, frequent bouts of pneumonia and/or bronchitis, and even possibly coughing up blood. Therefore, radon testing is the only way to know with 100% certainty if you are being exposed to radon.
The Importance of Radon Testing
As mentioned above, it can take up to two decades before you begin to show any symptoms of radon exposure. Once symptoms appear, it is too late. Testing is critical when you consider the EPA reports that around 1 in 15 American homes have high levels of radon . Fortunately, radon testing is easy and accurate, particularly when you hire professionals who have specialized electronic, calibrated radon monitors that can analyze radon levels within a couple of days.
Radon is often referred to as “the silent killer.” Don’t allow you or your family to become a statistic. Schedule your radon testing today. https://www.lung.org/lung-health-and-diseases/lung-disease-lookup/lung-cancer/resource-library/lung-cancer-fact-sheet.html  https://www.cancer.org/latest-news/why-lung-cancer-strikes-nonsmokers.html  https://www.epa.gov/radon/health-risk-radon  https://www.healthline.com/health/healthy-home-guide/radon-poisoning#exposure  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9486815  https://www3.epa.gov/radtown/radon-homes-buildings.html