Unfortunately, roughly 10% of lung cancer diagnoses occur in people who have never smoked a day in their lives. It can be frustrating if you or a loved one is in this situation. You took efforts to stay healthy but still received a frightening and life-changing diagnosis.
The risk of lung cancer among non-smokers is increasing. One reason for this increased risk could be the high rate of radon found in many homes.
Radon is the leading cause of lung cancer for non-smokers
Radon is a naturally occurring, radioactive gas emitted from degrading uranium in the soil. This gas might be natural, but that does not mean it is safe. Exposure to radon is dangerous, and according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), it is also:
· The second-leading cause of lung cancer overall, under smoking.
Few people know the risk that radon poses, and yet the risk could be living within their own home.
Many Tennessee homes could carry a high risk for radon exposure
The American Lung Association collected data in states across the country and recently published their findings in a report titled the State of Lung Cancer. According to this report, Tennesseans face a much higher rate of lung cancer than the national average. The national incident rate of lung cancer is 59.6 out of 100,000. In Tennessee, that rate is 75.5.
This high rate of lung cancer can partly be attributed to smoking. However, the report was also a wakeup call regarding high radon levels. For example:
· This report found that 13 counties had homes with radon levels greater than 4pCi/L, the maximum level under EPA regulations;
· The State of Tennessee lists 36 counties with levels this high; and
· The EPA lists 38 counties.
There is no safe level of radon, but the EPA states that the levels of radon accumulated indoors should fall between 2 pCi/L and 4pCi/L. If levels are greater than four, you should take action to mitigate the levels of radon in your home.
These statistics might be alarming but remember, radon levels vary significantly between each home and geographical area. That is why each family should test their home, so they can reduce their risk of cancer.