Thursday, November 6, 2008

RADON

http://www.unitedforlunghealth.org/Radon%20Fact%20Sheet.pdf

Radon
Background
Radon is a radioactive gas formed by the natural decay of uranium that is found in soil and rock in all parts of the United
States. It is found in all types of buildings and it is invisible, odorless and tasteless. Radon seeps in through drains, cracks,
and other holes or openings in the foundation.1 Radon gas escapes easily from the ground into the air and emits radiation
called alpha particles, also called "radon daughters." These particles are electrically charged and attach to aerosols, dust,
smoke and other particles in the air we breathe. As a result, radon progeny may be deposited on the cells lining the
airways, where alpha particles can damage the DNA and cause lung cancer.2

We now have direct evidence that prolonged residential radon is one of our leading public health risks and a major cause
of cancer. The challenge is to use this information to test and mitigate, as well as to promote radon-resistant new
construction.3 Currently, lung cancer is under-funded and under-researched. Only $1,829 is spent per lung cancer death,
the least amount of cancer research dollars per death for the nation's leading cancer killer. By comparison, breast cancer
research receives $23,474 per estimated death, and prostate cancer receives $14,389.4

Frequency of Radon
On January 13, 2005, Dr. Richard H. Carmona, the U.S. Surgeon General, issued a national health advisory on radon.
According to EPA estimates, Radon is the number one cause of lung cancer among non-smokers. Overall, radon is the
second leading cause of lung cancer. Radon is responsible for about 21,000 lung cancer deaths every year. About 2,900
of these deaths occur among people who have never smoked.
Breathing home indoor radon causes nearly one hundred times more deaths each year than carbon monoxide poisoning.5
It is possible for one home to have elevated levels of radon while a neighboring home does not. Testing is the only way to
determine the radon level in your home.1 Inhaling indoor air containing radon over a period of years can increase your
risk of getting lung cancer. Your chance of getting lung cancer from radon depends on how much radon is in your home
and how much time you spend in your home. If you are a smoker or a former smoker, the risk of getting lung cancer from
radon is even greater.6

Indoor radon is the second-leading cause of lung cancer in the United States and breathing it over prolonged periods can
present a significant health risk to families all over the county," Dr. Carmona said. "It's important to know that this threat
is completely preventable. Radon can be detected with a simple test and fixed through well-established venting
techniques." Simple test kits can reveal the amount of radon in any building. Those with high levels can be fixed with
simple and affordable venting techniques. According to U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates, one in
every 15 homes nationwide have a high radon level at or above the recommended radon action level of 4 picoCuries
(pCi/L) per liter of air.

Simple test kits can reveal the amount of radon in any building. Those with high levels can be fixed with simple and
affordable venting techniques. According to U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates, one in every 15
homes nationwide have a high radon level at or above the recommended radon action level of 4 picoCuries (pCi/L) per
liter of air.

R. William Field, PHD, MS
Professor
Department of Occupational and Environmental Health
Department of Epidemiology
College of Public Health
N222 Oakdale Hall
University of Iowa
Iowa City, IA 52242
PH:319-335-4413
bill-field@uiowa.edu


--------------------------- RADONPROFESSIONALS - http://list.uiowa.edu/archives/radonprofessionals.html ---------------------------

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