Number one cause of cancer
It’s common knowledge that smoking is the number one cause of lung cancer and it makes sense. With all the chemicals flowing through the lungs consistently each and every day, the chemicals cause regular cells to mutate into cancer cells and then they spread throughout the body.
Radon causes lung cancer
The same principle follows with the second leading cause of lung cancer, which is radon gas. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) radon kills 21,000 people by way of lung cancer each year. About 2,900 of those people were not even smokers. Radon can also be found naturally in drinking water, which is another way it enters our bodies.
Radon gas can be found everywhere naturally. But it’s especially found in enclosed spaces like mines, homes, and basements. It’s a gas no human can smell or see, which makes it dangerous because there’s no way to know for sure that you have a radon problem just by smelling it or looking for it. To put this into perspective of how dangerous radon gas can be to your health, the third leading cause of lung cancer is second-hand smoke.
The most threatening side effect of radon gas is lung cancer. It is the only physical malady proven to be linked to radon exposure. According to the EPA, smokers have an even higher risk of getting lung cancer when exposed to radon because they have more carcinogens passing through their lungs at a consistent rate.
Since the gas permeates our lives quite literally, we are constantly breathing it in and out with each breath. The gas is both inside and outside as it comes from the natural breakdown of uranium in our soil and water. Radon is a form of radiation, which may be why it affects us like other radiation forms do. Since the gas is all around us, we have to be vigilant about watching the gas levels in the spaces we inhabit.
The quick fix
Testing for radon levels is the easiest way to find out if you have radon gas in your office or home. Testing kits can be found at hardware stores or online and you can set them up. You will need to follow the instructions very carefully so test results are not skewed however.
Another option is to have a radon mitigation contractor do a radon reading at your home to see what levels of the gas are present. This is a great value because the contractor can also tell you how to best keep radon out of your home or office. Whether your test results come back with high levels or low levels, they can give you tips on how to best protect yourself and family from the gas. If you do end up needing a radon mitigation system, a certified radon contractor will be able to complete the job correctly. Doing it yourself could save you money initially but the chances are high that at some point a contractor will need to come in to get the radon levels as low as possible.
The radon reading catch
The EPA recommends that buildings with 4 pCi/L (pico Curies per Liter) or more take action and have the building mitigated for radon. The difficulty with this is that many people then think levels lower than 4pCi/L are safe.
The reality is though, is that even at a level of 1.3 oCi/L in a building, 2 out of 1,000 people may still get lung cancer. As a country we still do not understood enough about radon and the risk it poses to each of us. This means the best way to protect ourselves is to go on the offensive against radon.
The take home message here is, radon can still harm you, even with only small amounts. This isn’t being written as a scare tactic, but to make people aware of what radon can do, so they can protect themselves and their family.
To test your home or office for radon gas, find a professional who does radon gas testing today.
Marianne Snyder writes about home improvement topics like energy efficiency, basement waterproofing and crawl space repair.