What Are The Health Risks Associated With Radon?

Radon gas decays into radioactive particles that can get trapped in your lungs when you breathe. As they break down further, these particles release small bursts of energy. This can damage lung tissue and lead to lung cancer over the course of your lifetime. Not everyone exposed to elevated radon levels will develop lung cancer. And the amount of time between exposure and the onset of the disease may be many years.

Like other environmental pollutants, there is some uncertainty about the magnitude of the health hazards of radon. However, we know more about the radon risk than those of most other cancer-causing substances. This is because estimates of radon dangers are based upon past studies of cancer in humans (underground miners). Additional studies on more typical populations are under way.

Smoking combined with radon is an especially serious health risk. Stop smoking and lower radon levels to reduce your lung cancer risk.
Children have been reported to be at greater risk than adults for certain types of cancer from radiation, but currently there is no conclusive data on whether children are at greater risk from radon than adults.

Your chances of getting lung cancer from radon depend mostly on:

  • The radon levels in your home.
  • The amount of time you spend in your home.
  • Whether you are a smoker or have ever smoked.

Ways to protect yourself and your family are discussed in the EPA's "Citizen's Guide to Radon."

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