Radon gas is a leading cause of cancer

Pub date June 23, 2011
WriterSarah Phelan
SectionPolitics Blog

Remember how we were all freaking out a few months ago about radiation, in the wake of the devastating earthquake and tsunami in Japan that led to releases of radioactive material from Japan’s stricken Fukushiima Daiichi nuclear plant? Well, now comes news that the leading cause of non-smoking lung cancer in the United States is radon gas, a radioactive gas that comes from the natural decay of uranium found in nearly all soils. And the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which says radon gas leads to an estimated 21,000 deaths each year, apparently wants to help you test for it in your home.Typically, radon moves up through the ground to the air above and into people’s home through cracks and other holes in the foundation. In other words, your home can end up trapping and building up radon inside. This can happen in new and old homes, well-sealed and drafty homes, and homes with or without basements. And Sometimes radon can enter your home through well water, and occasionally building materials give off radon, too.

So, now U.S. EPA has announced a plan, which includes strategies to reach low-income families, many of whom, as the feds note, “do not have the resources to make the simple fixes necessary to protect their homes and loved ones.”

“With nearly one in 15 homes affected by elevated levels of radon and thousands dying each year from radon-induced cancer, it’s time to step up our actions in the federal government,” EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson said. “Through the Federal Radon Action Plan, we’re working with partner agencies to raise awareness about the threat of radon in our homes and to take steps to mitigate this hazard. Together our efforts will help reduce radon exposure and make our homes, schools and communities healthier places to live, learn, work and play.”

To learn more, check out the fed’s Radon Plan website, or call 1-800-SOS-RADON.