The U.S. Surgeon General, Richard Carmona, Issues National Health Advisory
The Surgeon General of the United States issued a Health Advisory in January, 2005 warning Americans about the health risk from exposure to radon in indoor air. The Nation’s Chief Physician urged Americans to test their homes to find out how much radon they might be breathing. Dr. Carmona also stressed the need to remedy the problem as soon as possible when the radon level is 4 pCi/L or more. Dr. Carmona noted that more than 20,000 Americans die of radon-related lung cancer each year.
Studies Find Direct Evidence Linking Radon in Homes to Lung Cancer
(January 29, 2005 and March 16, 2005) Two studies show definitive evidence of an association between residential radon exposure and lung cancer. Two studies, a North American study and a European study, both combined data from several previous residential studies. These two studies go a step beyond earlier findings. They confirm the radon health risks, predicted by occupational studies of underground miners, who breathed radon for a period of years. Early in the debate about radon-related risks, some researchers questioned whether occupational studies could be used to calculate risks from exposure to radon in the home environment. “These findings effectively end any doubts about the risks to Americans of having radon in their homes,” said Tom Kelly, Director of EPA’s Indoor Environments Division. “We know that radon is a carcinogen. This research confirms that breathing low levels of radon can lead to lung cancer.”
Exposure to Radon Causes Lung Cancer in Non-smokers and Smokers Alike
Lung cancer kills thousands of Americans every year. The untimely deaths of Peter Jennings and Dana Reeve have raised public awareness about lung cancer, especially among people who have never smoked. Smoking, radon, and secondhand smoke are the leading causes of lung cancer. Although lung cancer can be treated, the survival rate is one of the lowest for those with cancer. From the time of diagnosis, between 11 and 15 percent of those afflicted will live beyond five years depending upon demographic factors. In many cases lung cancer can be prevented; this is especially true for radon.