World Lung Cancer Day: August 1
The summer has flown by, and we are already starting August – and today, August 1st, is recognized as World Lung Cancer Day. Lung cancer is one of the more common types of cancer, making up around a quarter of all the cancer-related deaths in the U.S. this year. Of course, the leading cause of lung cancer is smoking/secondhand smoke, and the negative effects of smoking have been heavily broadcast to discourage use. Most people have seen studies or know of campaigns seeking to decrease its use, but not everyone knows about the second-leading cause of lung cancer: radon.
In some ways, radon could be more dangerous than smoking: it is commonly referred to as the “silent killer,” as it lacks any taste, smell, or visibility (unlike smoke), and many don’t know anything about radon or the effects it can have. It’s estimated that around 21,000 lung cancer deaths are because of radon exposure – almost three times the estimated number of deaths due to secondhand smoke. Radon is a naturally-occurring substance, and therefore can be found everywhere. Being exposed to high levels – anything above 4.0 pCi/L, according to the EPA – for extended periods of time puts you at a higher risk of developing lung cancer. If you also smoke, or have smoked, the risk grows even higher.
The good news is that finding out your home’s radon levels is relatively easy and cost-efficient! There are many types of testing devices available to use. One of the most common ones is an activated charcoal radon sampler (referred to as a “Short Term Test Kit”). Our lab recommends this type of test kit for exploratory testing, as it requires an exposure time of a few days and doesn’t take more than a week or so to get results. These test kits also tend to be priced the lowest and have a high degree of accuracy (if used correctly)! If you’ve never tested or it’s been a few years since you’ve tested, the activated charcoal (Short Term) kit would be a great test to use. Other types of test kits exist that are exposed for several months, with results that will give you a better idea of your home’s average radon level year-round. Electronic testing kits are available as well. There are also professionals who can test for radon in your home!
If your home does have high radon levels, the other good news that it is a fixable problem. Radon professionals can install a mitigation system in your home to reduce radon levels. There are many companies all over the U.S. who provide these services! For more information about mitigation services and providers, contact your state radon contact (see below).
For more information, take a look at these resources: