CHICAGO, IL | November 11, 2015
Announcing a joint commitment to fight the second leading cause of lung cancer, radon gas, the American Lung Association, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and eight other national partners released the National Radon Action Plan: A Strategy for Saving Lives. The plan sets out strategies to drive the changes needed to reduce exposure to radon, a naturally occurring, invisible and odorless gas that causes an estimated 21,000 lung cancer deaths annually.
The National Radon Action Plan identifies four key approaches to reducing radon exposure and 14 specific strategies to achieve them. The goal is to prevent 3,200 lung cancer deaths by driving change to reduce radon gas in 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 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 Harold P. Wimmer, National President and CEO of the American Lung Association. “We know how to prevent homes from having high radon levels and to find and fix those that do. If our nation implemented the strategies outlined in the National Plan, thousands of lives would be saved. The time to take bold action is now.”
Radon is a radioactive gas that comes from natural processes in the ground. Nearly all soils contain uranium, which naturally decays over time to produce radon gas. Radon seeps up from the soil into the air, concentrating in buildings. But because it is invisible and odorless, radon can build up to dangerous levels indoors. Effective measures exist to reduce radon indoors, which can reduce radon-caused lung cancer.
The National Plan builds on the Federal Radon Action Plan, released in 2011, that has led to the protection from radon in more than 105,000 multi-family homes that have HUD financing, among other measures. However, that 2011 plan focused solely on actions that federal agencies could take, while the new plan broadens the tools to include actions that the private sector and the non-governmental organizations can put in place.
In addition to the Lung Association and federal agencies, the other organizations committing to put these changes in place are the American Association of Radon Scientists and Technologists, the American Society of Home Inspectors, Cancer Survivors Against Radon, the Children’s Environmental Health Network, Citizens for Radioactive Radon Reduction the Conference of Radiation Control Program Directors, the Environmental Law Institute and the National Center for Healthy Housing. The partners welcome others who support these actions to join our effort/endorse the plan.
The new National Plan can be found at www.lung.org/assets/documents/healthy-air/national-radon-action-plan.pdf. For media interested in speaking with an expert about radon gas, lung health or lung cancer, contact the American Lung Association at [email protected] or 312-801-7628.
The American Lung Association is the leading organization working to save lives by improving lung health and preventing lung disease through education, advocacy and research. The work of the American Lung Association is focused on four strategic imperatives: to defeat lung cancer; to champion clean air for all; to improve the quality of life for those with lung disease and their families; and to create a tobacco-free future. For more information about the American Lung Association, a holder of the coveted 4-star rating from Charity Navigator and a Gold-Level GuideStar Member, or to support the work it does, call 1-800-LUNGUSA (1-800-586-4872) or visit: Lung.org.
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