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Facts You Should Know About Radon

Radon gas decays into radioactive particles that can get trapped in your lungs when you breathe.  As they break down further, these particles release small bursts of energy.  This can damage lung tissue and lead to lung cancer over the course of your lifetime.  Not everyone exposed to elevated levels of radon will develop lung cancer.  And the amount of time between exposure and the onset of the disease may be many years. 

Like other environmental pollutants, there is some uncertainty about the magnitude of radon health risks.  However, we know more about radon risks that risks from most other cancer-causing substances.  This is because estimates of radon risks are based on studies of cancer in humans (underground miners).  Additional studies on more typical populations are under way.

Smoking combined with radon is an especially serious health risk.  Stop smoking and lower your radon level to reduce your lung cancer risk. 

Children have been reported to have greater risk than adults of certain types of cancer from radiation, but there are currently no conclusive data on whether children are at greater risk than adults from radon.

Your chances of getting lung cancer from radon depend mostly on:

  • How much radon is in your home
  • The amount of time you spend in your home
  • Whether you are a smoker or have ever smoked

RADON RISK IF YOU SMOKE

Radon Level If 1000 people who smoked were exposed to this level over a lifetime... The risk of cancer from radon exposure compares to... WHAT TO DO:
Stop Smoking and...
20 pCi/L About 135 people could get lung cancer 100 times the risk of drowning Fix your home
10 pCi/L About 71 people could get lung cancer 100 times the risk of dying in a home fire Fix your home
8 pCi/L About 57 people could get lung cancer   Fix your home
4 pCi/L About 29 people could get lung cancer 100 times the risk of dying in a plane crash Fix your home
2 pCi/L About 15 people could get lung cancer Twice the risk of dying in a car crash Consider fixing between 2 and 4 pCi/L
1.3 pCi/L About 9 people could get lung cancer Average indoor radon level Reducing radon levels below 2 pCi/L is diffucult
0.4 pCi/L About 3 people could get lung cancer Average outdoor radon level

RADON RISK IF YOU HAVE NEVER SMOKED

Radon Level If 1000 people who smoked were exposed to this level over a lifetime... The risk of cancer from radon exposure compares to... WHAT TO DO:
Stop Smoking and...
20 pCi/L About 8 people could get lung cancer The risk of being killed in a violent crime Fix your home
10 pCi/L About 4 people could get lung cancer   Fix your home
8 pCi/L About 3 people could get lung cancer 10 times the risk of dying in a plane crash Fix your home
4 pCi/L About 2 people could get lung cancer Same as the risk of drowning Fix your home
2 pCi/L About 1 people could get lung cancer Same as the risk of dying in a home fire Consider fixing between 2 and 4 pCi/L
1.3 pCi/L Less than 1 person could get lung cancer Average indoor radon level Reducing radon levels below 2 pCi/L is diffucult
0.4 pCi/L Less than 1 person could get lung cancer Average outdoor radon level

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