Holden Comprehensive Cancer Center
Radon and Cancer
Peer Review Status: Holden Comprehensive Cancer Center, Cancer Information Service
What is radon?
Radon is a naturally occurring odorless, tasteless, colorless radioactive gas. It is produced by the natural breakdown of radium in soil, rock, and water. Many homes and buildings have high levels of radon. Exposure to high levels of radon constitutes an important health risk. The United States Surgeon General has warned that radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States, second only to smoking.
How does radon get in a house/building?
How does radon harm the body?
Long-term exposure to elevated radon concentrations is a health concern because it decays into solid radioactive particles, which can be trapped in the lungs. As the solid particles undergo further radioactive decay the particles release small bursts of energy that can damage lung tissue and lead to lung cancer.
How soon might lung cancer occur?
The amount of time between radon exposure and the onset of the lung cancer may be many years. If you smoke and your home has high radon concentrations, your risk of developing lung cancer is greater.
How can I find out if my house has a radon problem?
It is relatively easy and inexpensive to determine if radon is a problem in your home. There are both long-term and short-term "do it yourself" radon test kits. Call the National Safety Council at 800-767-7236 to find out about purchasing a test kit.
What can be done if my home has a radon problem?
There are a variety of methods used to reduce radon in your home, but they all involve one of two things:
Specific strategies might include sealing cracks in floors and walls, increasing ventilation with fans and heat exchangers, or drawing soil gas away from the house before it enters.
Last modification date:
Mon Aug 7 13:09:59 2006