The public is hearing more about radon and lung cancer. That radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer. And that radon is the leading cause of lung cancer in non-smokers.
Yet having a statistic like, say, knowing what percent of lung cancers are caused by exposure to radon in our homes, might make the problem seem a little easier to grasp.
A new study gives just those numbers, at least for people who live in Canada. And the numbers it reveals are even greater than once thought.
But first, it's important to say that this study is important to everyone. Radon gas isn't just something that's only of concern to underground miners. The greatest risk from radon is inside our own homes. In the United States elevated radon levels have been found in all 50 states, and it doesn't matter what the age of your home is - in fact, newer construction may be of greater risk as the gas is trapped more tightly. It doesn't matter what the value of your home is. Radon doesn't discriminate based on neighborhood or social class. If there is granite in the ground beneath your home, you could be at risk. And most of us don't know the composition of the rock deep beneath our homes.
While older studies in Canada had estimated that 10% of lung cancers were caused by exposure to radon in the home, researchers set out to test that theory. Based on long-term radon tests run in 14,000 homes across Canada the number was much higher. It's now estimated that 16% of lung cancers in Canada are related directly to radon exposure in the home.
Considering that lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths in men and women worldwide, 16% is an enormous number. If you haven't tested your home for radon, a radon test kit might be a good item to add to your back-to-school shopping list.
- Radon and Lung Cancer - What Everyone Should Know
- How to Test Your Home for Radon
- What to do if Your Radon Level is Elevated
Photo: flickr.com, user oparvez
Chen, J., Moir, D., and J. Whyte. Canadian Population Risk of Radon Induced Lung Cancer: A Re-Assessment Based on the Recent Cross-Canada Radon Survey. Radiation Protection Dosimetry. 2012 Aug 8. (Epub ahead of print)