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Second Leading Cause of Lung Cancer May Be in Your Basement

Is your basement putting you at risk for lung cancer?

Knowing the Facts

When we think of lung cancer, and lung cancer-related deaths, we immediately think of smoking and tobacco use. And, it's with good reason. According to the Centers for Disease Control, cigarette smoking is the number one risk factor for lung cancer. In the United States, cigarette smoking causes about 90 percent of lung cancers.

But the second leading cause of lung cancer could be in your home and you may not even know it.

Last year, we moved into a new home. We worried about everything from the house build to the move to how we would manage to unpack everything with two toddlers to wrangle. However, one thing we didn't need to worry about was radon.

Or so we thought.

What is radon? Should I be concerned?

Radon is a naturally occurring gas that comes from the ground. It can enter your home through the foundation, cracks in the walls and floors, bad piping and so on - and then get trapped inside. Radon can't be seen, smelled or tasted yet it is very dangerous - causing about 20,000 new cases of lung cancer each year.

Because radon is naturally occurring in the ground, not every home is at risk for high radon levels. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) provides a radon map and detailed information so you can determine the risk level for the zone you live in...

...in theory.

The reality is that every home should be checked with a radon testing kit. We tested our home, in a few days we learned that our passive radon mitigation system was not enough – our levels were greater than 4 pCi/L (picocuries per liter) and we would need to install a fan in our attic to draw more radon out from our basement into the air.

It was relatively inexpensive to have a fan installed (it may be more expensive without an existing passive system in place), and it worked. Our radon levels are now virtually undetectable.

Radon Testing for Lung Cancer Awareness Month

November is lung cancer awareness month. So while it is certainly important to educate friends and loved ones about the dangers of smoking tobacco, do yourself a favor and test your home for radon as well. It could, literally, save your life and the lives of those you love.

About This Blog

The Focus on Cancer blog discusses a variety of cancer-related topics, including treatment advances, research efforts and clinical trials, nutrition, support groups, survivorship and patient stories.

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