1 in 15 Homes At Risk from Radon Gas: American Lung Association Says Families, Nation Can Do More
Odorless, invisible radon gas is second-leading cause of lung cancer
(January 7, 2016) - WASHINGTON, D.C.
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Elevated levels of radon gas, the second-leading cause of lung cancer, is found in nearly one out of every 15 homes in the United States according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). In honor of Radon Action Month, the American Lung Association is calling on Americans to test their homes for this naturally-occurring gas, and for our nation to set into motion strategies to eliminate these avoidable lung cancer deaths.
"Radon causes 21,000 lung cancer deaths each year. These deaths are preventable, and as a nation there is an urgent need to take steps to save lives," said Harold P. Wimmer, National President and CEO of the American Lung Association.
Radon is a naturally occurring invisible, odorless and tasteless gas. It forms when uranium in the soil and rock underground breaks down to form radon. As radon decays, it releases radioactive byproducts that are inhaled and can cause lung cancer. Radon enters a home through cracks in the walls, basement floors, foundations and other openings, and can build up to dangerous concentrations.
"The good news is that we know how to test for radon, and if dangerous levels are found, how to reduce the levels. We urge all Americans to test their homes, but we can't stop there," Wimmer said. "That's why the American Lung Association has partnered with leaders in the field to drive change."
The American Lung Association has led a national workgroup to create a National Radon Action Plan that identifies proven-effective strategies to reduce exposure to radon gas. Implementing these strategies would prevent an estimated 3,200 lung cancer deaths by 2020. The Plan seeks to reach 5 million high-radon homes, apartments, schools and childcare centers. Strategies include building in radon testing and systems to reduce radon as standard practice in housing finance and insurance programs, and embedding radon risk reduction requirements in building codes. The Lung Association and partners are meeting with groups, including housing finance and building code developers, to put the initial steps in place.
"Our ultimate goal is to eliminate lung cancer caused by radon, and the best way to do that is to improve the way we protect people indoors," said Wimmer. "As we work towards implementing national strategies to save lives, we also encourage Americans to take action today to test their own homes."
Do-it-yourself test kits are simple and inexpensive. Testing can also be done by a certified radon-testing professional. Test kits are available at many local hardware stores or online. (In New Jersey, test kits may only be purchased online through New Jersey Resident Test Kits.) Questions about radon gas testing may be directed to the Lung Association's free Lung HelpLine (1-800-LUNGUSA).
For media interested in speaking with an expert about radon gas, lung cancer and lung health, contact the American Lung Association at Media@Lung.org or 312-801-7628.
About the American Lung Association
The American Lung Association is the leading organization working to save lives by improving lung health and preventing lung disease, through research, education and advocacy. The work of the American Lung Association is focused on four strategic imperatives: to defeat lung cancer; to improve the air we breathe; to reduce the burden of lung disease on individuals and their families; and to eliminate tobacco use and tobacco-related diseases. For more information about the American Lung Association, a holder of the Better Business Bureau Wise Giving Guide Seal, or to support the work it does, call 1-800-LUNGUSA (1-800-586-4872) or visit: Lung.org.