Story by: Norton Healthcare on January 15, 2020
Radon is a dangerous carcinogen. The odorless, invisible gas is the No. 1 cause of lung cancer among nonsmokers and the No. 2 cause of lung cancer deaths.
The radioactive gas seeps out of the soil as uranium decays and can become trapped in your home. It’s important to test for it and take steps to move it back to the outdoors.
Many parts of the Louisville area, including Southern Indiana, have a higher risk of exposure to radon. Jefferson, Bullitt and Nelson counties in Kentucky, and Clark, Harrison, Scott and Washington counties in Southern Indiana, are among areas with high potential for elevated indoor radon levels, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
Nationwide, nearly 1 out of every 15 homes are estimated to have elevated radon levels.
“The health hazard does not come directly from radon itself, but from the radioactive particles that are emitted as radon decays,” said Jenny Frantz, R.N., lung cancer patient navigator with Norton Cancer Institute. “Those particles can be inhaled into the lungs and bombard the cells with cancer-causing radiation.”
Test kits are inexpensive and typically available at hardware stores.
Check with your local health department for the possibility of getting a free kit.
The Kentucky Radon Program provides radon test kits free of charge to Kentucky residents through grant funding from the EPA State Indoor Radon Grant.
Radon cannot be seen, smelled or tasted and is a risk no matter where you live. It’s extremely important to test for radon whether you own, rent or live in an apartment. Testing is simple and inexpensive, and kits typically are available at hardware stores.
“Having your home tested is the first step,” Jenny, the patient navigator, said. “If you are a smoker and have been exposed to high levels of radon, it is important that you quit smoking. The combination of cigarette smoking and radon exposure increases the risk of developing lung cancer.”
Read more: Lung cancer prevention and detection
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