Radon: Keeping Your Family Safe

Do you know what the second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States is? Do you know what odorless and colorless radioactive gas may be present in your home? That’s right, it’s radon! The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that radon is responsible for more than 20,000 lung cancer deaths each year. It can affect you or your child’s health whether you smoke cigarettes or not, but the risk is increased further in smokers and passive smokers (exposed to secondhand smoke).

Unfortunately, because radon is odorless, you may not be able to detect any exposure until after years of harmful damage have occurred. There is no safe level of radon in your home. The lower the radon level is in your home, the lower your family’s risk of lung cancer.

So what is radon, and how could it be in your home? Radon is a gas that occurs naturally from the breakdown of a substance called uranium. Soil, rocks and groundwater all contain uranium. Radon can get into your homes through cracks in your foundation, gaps in floors or around pipes, construction joints and even the water supply. Modern construction is not exempt from radon risks, as new insulation strategies often trap radon gas more effectively in new homes than older homes. Fortunately, testing for radon in your home is safe, easy and inexpensive. The Columbus Public Health Department offers free radon test kits.

Once you’ve tested your home for radon, here’s are some next steps to take.
• Fix your home if your radon level is 4 picocuries per liter (pCi/L) or higher. At 4 pCi/L, the risk of getting cancer is five times higher than the risk of dying in a car crash.

• Consider treatment at levels higher than 2 pCi/L. Radon levels less than 4 pCi/L still pose a risk, and in many cases may be reduced with treatment.

• Do a follow up test after any radon mitigation is performed. This will ensure proper resolution of radon levels.

• Keep an eye on the ground structure of your home to prevent future radon risks.

Don’t wait for radon exposure to become a problem in your home. Take preventative action today to keep your home and family safe.

 

Benjamin Kopp, MD
Dr. Benjamin Kopp is an Assistant Professor in the Section of Pediatric Pulmonology and a Principle Investigator in the Center for Microbial Pathogenesis at Nationwide Children’s Hospital. He is avid cystic fibrosis researcher focused on novel therapies for infection. He has also started the pulmonary/sickle cell clinic to provide an integrated medical home for patients with sickle cell lung disease. He is a proud father of 2 children who keep him and his wonderful wife on their toes! Dr. Kopp is a buckeye for life, and loves to talk sports superstitions. Follow Dr. Ben on Twitter @KidsLungDoc for the latest pulmonary research updates and tips on how to manage chronic lung disease.

4 thoughts on “Radon: Keeping Your Family Safe

  1. Thank you sincerely, Dr. Kopp, for your message on the danger of living, working, and attending school in environments with elevated levels of radioactive radon gas. So many of our citizens are unaware of the human health threat that may be in their midst because we can’t detect it with our senses. As you said, the only way to know is to perform a simple test; and if the level is elevated, the fix is not difficult with a licensed, certified radon professional. In Ohio 53 of the 88 counties are considered to have the highest potential for elevated radon levels; however, high radon levels have been found in all 88 counties.

    Thank you again Dr. Kopp, for sharing your knowledge of radon with your readers and your patients. It is so very important we get the message out on the increased risk of lung cancer from radon exposure. Perhaps on all patient history forms, you will include this question, “Have you tested your home for radioactive radon gas? If so, what is the level, You can find a listing of certified and professional radon mitigators to reduce the level at the Ohio Department of Health.

    Hope you will visit our website, http://www.CitizensForRadioactiveRadonReduction.org and join our facebook at http://www.facebook.com/citizens4radonreduction. My husband passed with lung cancer; we were living with high levels of radon without our knowledge. I have given my life to raising awareness, increasing education, and encouraging and initiating legislation to help prevent future radon-induced lung cancer deaths.
    Sincerely,
    Gloria Linnertz
    seascape@htc.net
    618 Evansville Ave.
    Waterloo, IL 62298
    President/Founder, Citizens For Radioactive Radon Reduction
    Sincerely,

  2. Hmm is anyone else having problems with the pictures on this blog loading? I’m trying to determine if its a problem on my end or if it’s the blog. Any feed-back would be greatly appreciated.

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