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Monday, December 29, 2008

Radon and Lung Cancer - The Connection


Radon
and Lung Cancer – The Connection





Everyone,
even the heaviest of smokers, knows that cigarettes can cause lung
cancer. But not many people know that there’s a substance
called radon that’s the second-highest contributor to the
number of lung cancer deaths. Radon, for those of you in the dark, is
a radioactive gas that’s released from the natural uranium
present in rocks, water and the soil.





The
connection between lung cancer and radon was first discovered when
large numbers of workers in uranium mines died of the disease. And
for non-smokers who are surprised to find themselves diagnosed with
lung cancer, you don’t have to look further than radon for the
culprit.





Some
homes are more exposed to radon than others because of their
proximity to soil that’s rich in uranium. Apartments that are
at the basement level and ground and first floors, and houses that
are tightly insulated are prone to have higher levels of radiation
from radon because they may be built on soil that contains a large
amount of uranium.



Radon,
when it decays, emanates tiny radioactive particles which go into
your lungs when you breathe and cause damage to your cells over the
years. According to the EPA, it causes 20,000 deaths every year in
the USA alone. The prognosis is not good for survivors – even
if the disease is detected in the early stages, they are not expected
to live for more than five years beyond the date of the initial
diagnosis.





Radon
testing can tell you if your house has safe levels of radioactive
elements and if you’re at risk for cancer. You can ask for a
radon testing kit to determine for yourself if your home is exposed
to high levels of radiation; alternatively, you can get someone to do
the testing for you. If your home is found to have radon levels
greater than or equal to 4 pCi/L or more, you can have it fixed.





Lung
cancer, especially those cases that are caused by radon and
secondhand smoke can be prevented if you’re careful enough. If
you’re not sure about the radiation levels in a house you’re
going to buy (or rent), you can check out the websites of the
U.S.
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA
)
and the
National
Safety Council

– both agencies jointly operate a hotline that you can call for
more information on radon and areas that are known to be hotbeds of
the radioactive gas.











By-line:


This
post was contributed by Kelly Kilpatrick, who writes on the subject
of
CNA
certification
.
She invites your feedback at kellykilpatrick24 at gmail dot com