Radon is a colorless, odorless radioactive gas. It comes from the natural decay of uranium or thorium found in nearly all soils. It typically moves up through the ground and into the home through cracks in floors, walls and foundations. It can also be released from building materials or from well water. Radon breaks down quickly, giving off radioactive particles. Long-term exposure to these particles can lead to lung cancer.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates that radon causes about 21,000 lung cancer deaths in the United States each year. While other estimates might be higher or lower, there is general agreement that radon exposure is the second leading cause of lung cancer after active smoking and the leading cause among non-smokers. Many radon-related lung cancer deaths can be prevented by testing for radon and taking the necessary steps to lower radon exposure in homes that have elevated radon levels. This process is known as radon mitigation.
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- Environmental Wellness Toolkit - What surrounds you each day in your home, work, or neighborhood and the resources available to you can affect your health. You can’t always choose what’s in the environments you live, work, or play in. But taking small steps to make your environments safer and limiting your exposure to potentially harmful substances can help keep you healthier.
- Radon and Cancer - Questions and Answers from the National Cancer Institute.
- Radon Resources from the EPA - Radon is a naturally occurring radioactive gas that can cause lung cancer.
- Protecting People and Families from Radon: A Federal Action Plan for Saving Lives - A collaborative effort led by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, U.S. Department of Agriculture, U.S. Department of Defense, U.S. Department of Energy, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, U.S. Department of Interior, U.S. Department Veterans Affairs, and U.S. General Services Administration.