Radon Gas, The Invisible Cause of Lung Cancer

I recently received a kind email about my blog from Jessica Morgan, who works with a radon testing and mitigation company based in the United Kingdom. Outside of smoking, radon gas exposure is one of the more common known factors for increasing the risk of lung cancer. In the message, she asked if I would be interested in an infographic her company had created called The Dangers of Radon and its Health Effects. According to their website, radon gas exposure is responsible for approximately 1,100 to 2,000 lung cancer deaths each year in the UK. Estimates for the US suggest between 15,000 and 22,000 deaths occur annually due to lung cancers related to radon gas exposure. Clearly, this is a serious and persistent issue.


Admittedly, I don’t know a whole lot about radon gas outside of having researched to see if it was a probable cause for my cancer diagnosis. The types of structures I have lived in and the locations of my previous homes indicated that there was no likely connection between my personal lung cancer and radon gas exposure. However, it is a subject that  I think is highly relevant to the greater lung cancer discussion and is an essential part of understanding that lung cancer is not simply a smoker’s disease.


Because radon gas is not one of the areas of my own specialty, I asked Jessica for some information that I could share. The following information comes directly from PropertEco Ltd, and was supplied to me by request as educational material based on their expertise in the field.

How Much Harm Can Radon Cause?

Radon, a radioactive, colorless, odorless, and tasteless gas, has been the second leading reason for lung cancer in people. Those who smoke are more susceptible to it. The characteristic of the soil or rock in the area can determine the levels of radon in houses as well as other buildings like schools, offices, etc. The seepage and concentration of the gas can vary from one place to another. When natural decay of elements like uranium and radium occur, it can lead to the formation of radon gas. This gas can travel from the ground and seep into homes and other buildings.

Radon itself is inert, but when it decays to particles like polonium and lead, it can become chemically active and attach itself to dust particles indoors which upon inhaling can lead to harmful effects like lung cancer.

Some of the harmful effects that radon can cause are genotoxic effects, lung cancer, emphysema, silicosis, respiratory lesions, etc. Please take a look at this infographic from PropertEco to understand about Radon and its ill effects in a simpler manner.
Infographic about Radon Gas Exposure and Health Risks
Infographic provided by http://www.properteco.co.uk

2 thoughts on “Radon Gas, The Invisible Cause of Lung Cancer

  1. Jeffery, thanks for this post. I happen to live in Iowa, the state with the highest incidence of radon in the US. Five out of seven homes in Iowa have an unacceptable level of radon. I happen to know a lot about radon as my physicians have said that it was the cause of my dx. Unfortunately we knew nothing about radon until I was diagnosed. There is absolutely no way to know if you are living with an unacceptable level unless you test. According to the College of Public Health at the Univ of Iowa, one-third of those who die from radon-induced lung cancer were living with a level between 2-4 pCi/L, so you want your level to definitely be less than 2.0.

    DIY kits can be ordered from the American Lung Association for just $15 (800-383-5992). Our homes should be tested every two years as radon levels change with the weather and other conditions (like a home improvement). Levels can change as many as 8 points from summer to winter. Here is a great page to educate yourself and share with your physicians. BreathingEasier.info
    I believe if more people tested their homes and acted on the results, we’d see a dramatic decrease in never-smokers and others being diagnosed with lung cancer.

    1. Thank you for sharing, Gail. Awareness on this is sorely lacking and it gets very little attention in the media. The causes of lung cancer are varied and the research has such a long way still to go, but taking a preventative step like checking for radon is so simple that it is surprising to me it isn’t a required step in new home ownership or for landlords to provide to renters. I doubt most people know that there are even maps of radon concentration for many geographic areas.

      All the best to you. Keep spreading the word!

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