I wrote earlier today about the very real problem of lung cancer in non-smokers. Now, the Environmental Protection Agency is joining the World Health Organization in launching an attack that addresses this group specifically. They have issued a global call-to-action on cancer risk from radon.
Radon is an invisible, odorless gas present in 1 of 15 homes in the United States, and the leading cause of lung cancer in non-smokers.
In the United States, the current threshold for recommending repair of elevated radon levels, is 4 pCi/L (pico curies per liter). With the new threshold, this level will be reduced to 2.7 pCi/L. This is not really new – the EPA has suggested for some time that individuals consider repairs not only if their level is greater than 4 pCi/L, but also if it falls between 2 and 4 pCi/L.
A consensus of experts worldwide estimates that 1 in 7 lung cancer deaths in countries such as the United States are due to radon. Knowing that lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths in men and women in the U.S. and worldwide, these numbers are palpable. Radon is no small problem.
Thankfully, testing for radon is easy and inexpensive. Most hardware stores carry test kits for less than $20. Treating elevated levels of radon – radon mitigation – is somewhat more expensive, and can run from $600 to $2500. Still a bargain in this economy when compared with the cost of lung cancer treatment (not to speak of the heartache that accompanies a diagnosis of lung cancer.)
For anyone who still needs an extra push to test for radon, here again are my "unscientific reasons".
Test your home for radon because:
- 1. It doesn’t take any willpower.
- 2. You can do it once (or twice) and forget about it for a long, long time.
- 3. If the level is abnormal, it’s not your fault.
- 4. Someone other than you can fix it.
- 5. It’s cheaper than therapy.
- 6. You can do it in your pajamas.
- 7. Nobody will gossip about you, or be jealous if you do it.
- 8. If the test comes back bad, it doesn’t mean you are a bad cook/housecleaner/mother/father/friend/employee/employer/coach.
- 9. Fixing an abnormal level won’t change anything (except your radon level).
- 10. Most importantly, it is a positive change you have made in your lifestyle, so when your friends are flaunting their new exercise program/diet/green lifestyle change, you will have something to share as well.
Photo: flicker.com, user oparvez
Environmental Protection Agency. Press Release. 09/21/09. EPA Joins Global Call-to-Action on Radon Cancer Dangers. http://yosemite.epa.gov/opa/admpress.nsf/0/8575b629701ce77b85257638005ef218?OpenDocument