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Radon Risks: EPA Urges Homeowners To Test For Lung Cancer-Causing Radioactive Gas

Update Date: Jan 11, 2017 08:00 AM EST

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommends that all Americans across the nation test their homes for radon - a colorless, odorless and radioactive human carcinogen.

Every year, an estimated 21,000 Americans die from lung cancer caused by exposure to radon. The only way to know if the home is safe or it has an elevated level of radon is testing.

The U.S. Surgeon General and EPA recommend that if the home has a radon level of 4 picocuries per liter (pCi/L) of air or more, the homeowner should contact a radon mitigation contractor.

"Testing your home for radon is one of the easiest ways to help keep your family safe and healthy," Janet McCabe, Acting Assistant Administrator for EPA's Office of Air and Radiation, said in a press release.

"Radon exposure is preventable. Test kits are inexpensive and readily available. Reducing exposure protects families, saves lives and avoids the health care costs of radon-caused lung cancer. Everyone who takes action helps to make America's homes and schools safer for future generations," she added.

Radon Risks

According to EPA, exposure to radon causes lung cancer both in non-smokers and smokers alike. However, a smoker exposed to radon has a much higher risk of lung cancer.

Radon is the number one cause of lung cancer among non-smokers in the United States. In fact, it's the second leading cause of lung cancer.

Lung cancer takes the lives of thousands of Americans each year. Three of the leading causes of cancer are smoking, radon and secondhand smoke.

The latest guidelines coined is to fix the home if the radon level is 4 pCi/L and above.

Testing The Home

The Department of Energy Protection (DEP) provides information and a video on how to test the home. Testing the home is very easy and it can show homeowners if there are elevated levels of radon. An easy home test is available at hardware stores for about $20 to $30. They can also hire certified testing companies.

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