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About Cancer Defeated!
This indoor gas kills 21,000 people every year!
From time to time I hear that someone died of lung cancer "and he didn't even smoke." Everyone wonders, "What happened?" Keep reading. . .mystery solved. . .
Continued below. . .
New research confirms what a lot of us already knew but need to be reminded of: Radon kills.
Radon is an indoor air hazard that's responsible for 21,000 lung cancer deaths each year. Radon poisoning kills more people than even drunk driving, and there's a good chance it's a problem in your home.
With every breath they take, your family could be inhaling this radioactive gas. What makes it even scarier is that it's impossible to see, smell, or taste … which is exactly why it so easily builds up to unsafe levels in your home.
Radon is already all around you...
Radon gas comes from the natural breakdown of uranium in the soil and rocks deep beneath earth's surface. Gradually, the gas moves up and out of the earth, eventually seeping through cracks in the foundation of your home. It can even leach into sump pumps and drinking water.
Radon is actually in the air all around us on a regular basis. But it becomes a health hazard when trapped indoors where it can accumulate. Once it penetrates your house, radon quickly builds to dangerous levels.
The scary thing is that it can happen to anyone, anywhere. It doesn't matter whether your house is old or new. It doesn't matter whether your slab is built right on top of the soil or whether you have a basement or crawl space.
Radon levels even vary considerably between houses on the same street. It's just about impossible to predict the nature of geologic soil deposits throughout a neighborhood. It's equally hard to know the extent to which soil gasses will seep into and be held by a house. This means every house is at risk.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates nearly one out of every 15 homes in the U.S. has elevated radon levels — that means over 8 million homes. This is not a small problem, what with 21,000 deaths a year. Where are the Moms Against Nasty Gases?
Right now, radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States. Smoking is the first, of course. (Note: If you smoke and your home has high levels of radon, you're especially at risk of developing lung cancer.)
The scary thing about radon is, all you have to do is breathe it over time to get severely contaminated, which happens easily since it's invisible and odorless.
To make matters worse, there aren't any specific physical indicators to warn you your air is compromised. Respiratory ailments are indications — things like hoarseness, a persistent cough, or recurring respiratory infections. One problem is that a lot of other things can cause the same symptoms; most people suspect allergies, dust, or mold before they ever consider radon poisoning.
A known, lethal cause of cancer
Unlike a lot of things believed to cause cancer, we know radon causes cancer. The science in this area is very strong. Radon poisoning is consistently rated by the federal government as a top environmental risk. It's the leading environmental cause of cancer.
Radon becomes lethal when the gas decays into radioactive particles. As you breathe in, those particles get trapped in your lungs where they break down even further. From there, they start to release small bursts of energy. These bursts damage your lung tissue and, over time, lead to lung cancer.
Although radon can enter your house via water or soil, inhalation of the gas poses the greatest risk. It's possible to develop stomach cancer as an eventual result of ingesting radon through your water supply, but the greater risk from radon in water comes when the gas is released into the air through activities like showering or washing dishes.
A radon problem in your water supply is most likely to occur if your water source is ground water, such as that which comes from a private well or a public, ground-based water supply system. Since my water comes from a well, you can bet this got my attention!
On the upside, the amount of time between exposure to radon gas and the onset of cancer may be several years at least, so if you find radon in your home it doesn't mean you're doomed to cancer. Plus, not everyone exposed to elevated radon levels goes on to develop cancer.
But a lot of them will. And for something so easy to test for and treat, why take the risk?
The only way to know is to test
The good news is that radon problems are easy to test for. In fact, the U.S. Surgeon General and the EPA recommend that all types of homes be tested for radon poisoning at or below the third floor.
Do-it-yourself kits can be found online, at retail stores, or by calling your state's radon office. Tests usually involve opening a small package and leaving it for a set number of days in a designated area inside your house. When done, you seal the detector back in the package and mail it to a lab.
The World Health Organization says 2.7 picoCuries per liter of air (pCi/L) is high enough to be of concern, although the EPA says 4 pCi/L is the level at which you should take action.
I suggest fixing your house if your radon level goes above 2 pCi/L. Better safe than sorry.
If you discover radon build-up in your home, it's relatively easy and cheap to get rid of it. To fix the problem, find a qualified professional to install a vent pipe in your home. If you're building a new home, use radon-resistant features.
If your water tests positive for a radon problem, it can be treated in two ways. You can opt for point-of-entry treatment or point-of-use treatment devices. Beware, though, that a point-of-use device on a tap only affects the water you ingest. Radon released into the air when you shower or launder clothes will not be affected.
By the way, radon can also be a problem in workplaces, schools, and childcare facilities. If you or your family members spend a lot of time in a particular place, make sure that building has been tested. Remember, radon is easy and inexpensive to detect, but it's up to you to discover whether you have a radon problem in the first place so you can take care of it.
NC Radon Program: Frequently Asked Questions. http://www.ncradon.org/FAQ.htm
"Reducing Radon Risks." http://www.epa.gov/radon/pubs/rducrsks.html
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