Exposure to radon is a leading cause of lung cancer in the United States. If your home has elevated levels of this radioactive gas, then your chance of developing lung cancer is higher than most. If you smoke cigarettes along with living in a house with dangerous levels of radon, then your risk becomes significantly higher.
“Safe” Level of Radon
Radon is a colorless and odorless gas that forms when radioactive metals, including uranium, thorium, and radium, disintegrate in soil, rocks, and groundwater. The gas can reach the surface by making its way through cracks and gaps in homes and buildings. People become exposed to radon by breathing it in.
This radioactive gas is present everywhere since it comes naturally from the earth. Yes, people are always exposed to radon, but the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) revealed that the “acceptable” level of radon is between 2.0 and 4.0 picocuries per liter of air (pCi/L).
Keep in mind that constant exposure to low levels of radon may still lead to lung cancer, and the risk is higher if you use tobacco products or become exposed to secondhand smoke.
Importance of Testing for Radon
The Environmental Protection Agency and the Office of the Surgeon General consider radon as the primary cause of more than 21,000 lung cancer deaths annually in the United States. When inhaling radon, radioactive particles from the gas can be trapped in the lungs. These radioactive particles heighten the risk of lung cancer development over time.
Testing your house or apartment for radon is the only means of determining whether you are at risk of high radon exposure.
Your Chances of Getting Lung Cancer
Your risk of having lung cancer from radon exposure depends on:
- How much of the radioactive gas is present in your home
- How much time you spend in a space with high levels of radon
- Your history of smoking and/or exposure to secondhand smoke
- If you burn wood, coal, or any other substance that affects the air quality of your home
Your chances of developing lung cancer are higher if the space you spend the most time in has elevated radon levels and you smoke and/or burn substances that add particles to indoor air.
How to Protect Your Family from Radon
To keep our family safe and healthy, most of us have formed a habit of checking the furnace for carbon monoxide leaks, keeping household cleaners and chemicals out of reach, locking the front and back doors, and changing our smoke detector batteries. Radon gas is something that many of us don’t worry enough about.
Here’s how you can protect your home from radon.
- Test your home
The average cost of radon testing is around $125 to $350, with most homeowners paying $200 for an installed continuous radon monitor. If these prices are too high, you have the option to get a DIY short-term radon testing kit for as low as $15. You can also hire a professional to conduct a radon inspection, which may cost up to $400.
Every home must undergo radon inspection and testing, regardless of where you reside and how new or old your home is. For instance, just because your neighbor has low levels of radon does not mean your house is safe. Also, a common misconception is that houses without basements never have high levels of radon. This information is false, along with these five other persistent myths about radon.
- Retest your home for radon
Indoor radon levels can change based on the time of year and if any household renovations took place. Even a project as simple as replacing a door can elevate radon levels in a home. The EPA recommends testing every two years.
If you have a radon mitigation system, which uses a fan to continuously pull air from the ground and send it outdoors through a pipe, retest regularly to make sure the fan is working properly. If your house has a passive radon system, testing will help you determine if it’s working right, or if you must add an exhaust fan to pull out more gas.
For more information on passive and active radon mitigation systems, check out this article by National Radon Defense.
- Install a mitigation system if you don’t already have one
Contact a certified radon mitigator and get a quote, especially if your home has elevated radon levels. If you have a tight budget, don’t hesitate to ask if they have a low or no-interest payment plan. Your family’s safety depends on it.
- If you’re a tenant, discuss your concerns about radon with your landlord
Talk with your landlord if you can’t test or mitigate your space on your own. Tell them about the dangers of radon, as well as how testing and mitigation could save their lives.
- If both your budget and landlord say no, consider your other options
If you currently can’t afford a mitigation system or if your landlord says no, there are other ways to reduce your family’s exposure to radon. For example, move your child’s bedroom and playroom away from the spaces in your home with elevated levels of radon, including the basement. Also, consider buying a portable air cleaner and replace your furnace filters regularly. Opening windows and doors more often and spending time outside of your home can help, too. Just remember that these are temporary solutions. It’s still crucial to install a mitigation system as soon as possible.
- Motivate your neighbors to test for radon
Tell your neighbors about your radon levels, which may encourage them to test their homes, too. Don’t feel ashamed about sharing this life-saving information since radon formation is a natural occurrence, so its presence in your home is not your fault. In Utah, 1 in 3 homes has high levels of radon, therefore, elevated levels shouldn’t be an embarrassing revelation, but rather a fixable situation.
- Don’t panic and stay optimistic
It’s never too late to address your radon problem. However, choosing to minimize your family’s exposure to radon now instead of later will help your bodies start the repair process and reverse any cell damage. Even people who have lived in their homes for decades can make a difference by being proactive about testing and mitigating today.
Alternative Lung Cancer Treatment That Works
At New Hope Unlimited, we have helped many patients beat lung cancer with our non-invasive therapies and holistic solutions. If you have fallen victim to the dangers of radon exposure, our doctors can fill you with new hope and light your path toward remission. Dial 480-757-6573 now to reach us and schedule a consultation.