American Lung Association Highlights Three Easy Steps to Reduce Risk of the Second-Leading Cause of Lung Cancer
One in 15 homes across the country tests positive for dangerous levels of radon, an invisible, odorless gas that causes lung cancer – the #1 cancer killer
(January 10, 2017) - CHICAGO
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One can't see, taste or smell radon, but this gas causes lung cancer and claims an estimated 21,000 lives in the U.S. each year. It's an invisible enemy in homes across the country. In recognition of Radon Action Month, the American Lung Association offers three simple steps that Americans can take now to reduce radon exposure.
"Many people don't know that radon is radioactive and the second leading cause of lung cancer," said Janice Nolen, assistant vice president of national policy of the American Lung Association. "Because it's invisible and odorless, they may not know they could have dangerous levels in their homes. This naturally occurring gas leaks into homes through spaces between the walls, floors, basements and foundations in buildings. Too often radon builds up to concentrations that cause lung cancer."
"Take this seriously," Nolen said. "Radon is the number one cause of lung cancer among nonsmokers."
Here are three steps to fight radon:
- Test homes for radon. January is a great time to test for radon. According to the U.S Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), dangerous levels of radon exist in nearly one in 15 homes. Inexpensive radon testing kits can be found at any local hardware store or online. Testing can also be done by a certified radon-testing professional. If dangerous levels of radon are found, homeowners can install a radon mitigation system, for about the same price as a large television screen, to decrease the risk of harmful exposure.
- Speak up to lower radon risk in other indoor spaces. Radon can build up in all buildings, not only homes. Speak with local community officials and public health professionals to encourage radon testing – and mitigation systems if high levels are found – in schools and childcare facilities and other public and private facilities. Some states have laws requiring schools be tested.
- Support policy steps to reduce radon levels indoors. The American Lung Association also encourages concerned citizens to support changes to policies that diminish the risk of radon. All state and local governments should adopt building codes to reduce indoor radon. During real estate transactions, potential buyers should be informed about the radon levels in the home they're considering.
"Testing for radon is easy," Nolen said. "Testing allows homeowners to find out if their home has this carcinogen and protect the health of their families. High levels of radon are found in every state. Nearly 21,000 people die each year from lung cancer caused by radon."
Fighting radon requires workable strategies, and the American Lung Association led the development of the National Radon Action Plan to provide those tools. In 2016, Vice President Joe Biden's Cancer Moonshot report cited the National Radon Action Plan as a success and a leading effort to lower lung cancer rates. The plan was developed by the American Lung Association and national partners, including the EPA, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and several industry and health advocacy organizations. 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 Radon Action Plan aims to reach five million high-radon homes, apartment, schools and childcare centers to prevent an estimated 3,200 lung cancer deaths by 2020.
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.