Radon & Cancer

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Radon, the Second Leading Cause of Lung Cancer in U.S.

The Amador County Environmental Health Department is working with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which is conducting a nationwide campaign to educate Americans about the dangers of radon exposure and to encourage them to take action to protect their homes and families. Because of the wide spread occurrence of granite in Amador County there is a higher probability of having elevated radon levels compared to other locations.

Radon is a naturally occurring, invisible, odorless, tasteless gas that is dispersed in outdoor air but can reach harmful levels when trapped in buildings. Scientists have long been concerned about the health risk of radon, but there is now overwhelming proof that exposure to elevated levels of radon causes lung cancer in humans. EPA estimates that radon is responsible for more than 20,000 lung cancer deaths per year. Radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the U.S. after smoking and the leading cause of lung cancer among non-smokers. “However,” says Dr. Bob Hartmann, Amador County Public Health Officer “because you can’t see or smell radon, people tend to downplay the health effects and ignore the possibility that there might be a silent killer in their homes.”

Testing homes for elevated levels of radon is simple and inexpensive. Radon problems can be fixed by qualified contractors for a cost similar to that of many common home repairs such as painting and roof repair. Though one might be tempted to estimate the probability of encountering elevated radon in their home based on test results of other homes in their area, the only way to know for sure is to test because it truly is a house to house issue. 

For more information on radon, call the California Department of Public Health Indoor Radon Program at [916-449-5674] or visit their Web site at [http://cdph.ca.gov/radon], or visit EPA’s National Radon Action Month Web site at www.epa.gov/radon/nram.