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Radon

Table of Contents

Introduction

Radon Test Kit
Source: EPA Assessment of Risks from Radon in Homes. EPA 402-R-03-003. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Radiation and Indoor Air, Washington, DC, 2003.

Radon

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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Further Reading

Additional Resources

  • 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.
Content courtesy of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

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