Radon is a problem in nearly 20 percent of the homes in many areas of the United States and claimed the lives of approximately 20,000 Americans in 2009.
WHO defines radon as a chemically inert, naturally occurring radioactive gas that has no smell, color or taste. Radon levels are highest indoors, particularly in mines, caves and water treatment facilities. But the greatest exposure to radon comes from the home. Radon can enter homes from cracks at concrete floor-wall junctions, gaps in the floor, sumps and drains and more. Radon levels are usually highest in basements and can vary by day or even hour.
According to WHO:
- Radon is estimated to cause between 3 and 14 percent of all lung cancers.
- Radon is much more likely to cause lung cancer in people who smoke, and is the primary cause of lung cancer among non-smokers.
- Radon-induced lung cancers are mainly caused by low and moderate rather than by high radon concentrations, because of the large number of people exposed to indoor radon in homes with such low concentrations.
- The lower the radon concentration in a home, the lower the risk as there is no known threshold below which radon exposures carries no risk.
WHO also outlines ways to reduce radon in homes, including improving ventilation of the house; avoiding the passage of radon from the basement into living rooms; increasing under-floor ventilation; installing a radon sump system in the basement; sealing floors and walls; and installing a positive pressurization or ventilation system.
Radon testing is easy, inexpensive, and saves lives. Learn more about National Radon Awareness Week 2010 at http://radonweek.wordpress.com.