It’s been well-established that cigarette smoking is the number one cause of lung cancer, but do you know the second-most cause? Studies show that there is a link between radon and lung cancer. Many only learn about the danger of radon exposure when buying or selling a home and ordering a radon test with their home inspection.
Why Should I Worry About Radon and Lung Cancer?
Radon is a natural gas that forms deep in the earth when radioactive elements like uranium break down. The colorless, odorless gas seeps up from the ground into the air where it disperses. Radon has been found in every state, and it is estimated that about one in every 15 homes has elevated levels. At least 21,000 die from radon-related lung cancer each year in the United States.
How Radon Gets in Your Home
Although radon may be found in schools or at the workplace, your home poses the greatest danger since this is where you spend the most time. Radon and lung cancer becomes a problem when the gas emitted from rocks and soil seeps through cracks in walls, floors, construction joints, and gaps around pumps, wiring, and pipes. Levels will be higher in basements and crawl spaces since these areas are closer to the source. This makes people who spend more time in a lower level of their home at a greater risk for radon-related lung cancer.
The Connection Between Radon and Lung Cancer
Research shows that long-term exposure to radon causes lung cancer. This is because the radon in the air breaks down into microscopic radioactive material. Day after day, and year after year, these particles cause lung damage that leads to cancer. Smokers who are concerned about lung cancer and radon should be aware that their risk for the disease is much greater. Talk to your doctor if you have been exposed to high radon levels. Be aware of symptoms like a new or worsening cough, shortness of breath, hoarseness, and difficulty swallowing.
Radon Testing and Mitigation
Since no area is exempt from the possible threat of radon, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommends testing for every home. If levels are high, there are ways to mitigate the problem such as sealing basement cracks or installing a system to ventilate the gas outdoors.
When you get the results, you may see some numbers in front of units called pCi/L. That’s how the amount of radon is measured. Action should be taken if the radon level in your home is 4.0 pCi/L or higher. Both radon testing and mitigation should be completed by professionals to eliminate inaccurate results.
AIM-HI Accurate Investment & Mortgage Home Inspections serves Middle Tennessee with radon testing. Contact us to schedule an appointment.