Health Risks of Radon

Last Modified: March 22, 2012


We are buying a house and the basement was tested and found to be high in radon. How is this harmful for my family? What should I do?


Gloria DiLullo, MSN, CRNP, OncoLink Content Specialist, responds:

After tobacco use, radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States. If radon is detected in levels above 4 pCi/L (picocuries per liter), a qualified radon professional can install a removal system, which vents the gas to the outside using a pipe and fan system. Because it is not clear what level of radon is safe, the EPA recommends that people consider a removal system for levels from 2-4 pCi/L.

If you are a smoker and exposed to radon, it is very important to quit smoking because the risk of lung cancer for a smoker with radon exposure can be 10 times higher than a non-smoker with radon exposure. Notify your healthcare provider if you have been exposed to high levels of radon so that, if appropriate, screening tests can be done to either decrease the risk of developing cancer or detect the cancer at an early stage when it may be able to be best treated.

To find out more about radon and radon testing in your home visit the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) website. To learn more about radon and radon exposure see the list of national organizations compiled by the American Cancer Society at ACS Radon Information.

This question and answer was part of the OncoLink Brown Bag Chat Series. View the entire Cancer Risk & Prevention Webchat transcript.


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