Testing for the second leading cause of lung cancer deaths is simple and affordable
By Georgia Williams
The second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States has nothing to do with smoking but it has everything to do with prevention. Starting on Monday, Oct. 17, through Oct. 24 is Federal Radon Action Week, according to U.S. Surgeon General Regina Benjamin. Health agencies throughout the country have joined forces to promote awareness of the leading cause of lung cancer for non-smokers, the invisible gas known as radon. The American Lung Association, Centers for Disease Control and National Cancer Institute all agree that radon is a national health problem and encourage radon testing during the October awareness drive.
Radon is a naturally occurring, invisible and odorless radioactive gas. One in 15 American homes contains high levels of radon. Millions of Americans are unknowingly exposed to this dangerous gas. In fact, a recent study by Harvard University ranks radon as America’s No. 1 in-home hazard.
Testing is quite simple and affordable.
Most home improvement stores sell doit-yourself radon testing kits for less than $15.
Radon gas is not isolated to certain geographical areas or home types. Radon problems have been detected in homes in every county of the United States. It caused more American fatalities last year than carbon monoxide, fires and handguns combined. If a home hasn’t been tested for radon in the past two years, EPA and Surgeon General Benjamin urge you to take action.
The federal commitment made by the Environmental Protection Agency, the General Services Administration, and the departments of Agriculture, Defense, Energy, Health and Human Services, Housing and Urban Development, Interior and Veterans Affairs will focus efforts on radon reduction and mitigation in homes, especially those of lowincome families, many of whom do not have the resources to make the simple fixes necessary to protect their homes and loved ones.
The U.S. government has known of this deadly household problem for more than two decades. In fact, President Ronald Reagan passed the National Indoor Radon Abatement Act back in 1988 to address the problem. Despite more than 22,000 lung cancer deaths that have occurred every year since the act was passed, it wasn’t until this year that the government actually put a plan of action into place. Typical.
On June 20, Congress passed the Federal Radon Action Plan. The plan calls for implementation of programs to reduce the risk of lung cancer to the American public in their homes and workplaces. The plan will put into place measures that will require radon testing and mitigation in American homes and workplaces. Testing for radon gas during real estate transactions will be a requirement and remediation will be necessary when the levels of radon gas are dangerous. Schools, workplaces and daycare facilities will be tested for radon to protect the American public outside their homes.
The goal of the Federal Radon Action Plan is simple: save lives through radon testing and mitigation.
Learn more about the federal plan at radonplan.org, or visit nyhealth.gov or ongov. net for more local initiatives.