I posted an article about Montana radon mines three weeks ago. The article was a tongue-in-cheek description of abandoned mines that have been converted into "health spas"; visitors pay admission fees to sit and breathe radon filled air. It has been brought to my attention that some readers of that article may consider that it is an endorsement about purported health benefits of radon gas. Nothing could be further from the truth. Radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States. So says the U.S. Surgeon General, the EPA, the American Cancer Society, and esteemed scientists worldwide. What is radon and how does it cause cancer? "Radon is a radioactive gas released from the normal decay of uranium in rocks and soil. It is an invisible, odorless, tasteless gas that seeps up through the ground...Radon decays quickly, giving off tiny radioactive particles. When inhaled, these radioactive particles can damage the cells that line the lung. Long-term exposure to radon can lead to lung cancer, the only cancer proven to be associated with inhaling radon,." according to NCI.
Some years ago when residential radon came on the health radar screens, federal guidelines were developed that recommended residential remediation at levels that were substantially lower than levels that prevailed in Canada and Europe. Critics cried "foul" and accused the government of pandering to radon remediation companies who were likely to reap more dollars from more stringent guidelines. Time, however, has proven the critics wrong on all counts. Recent studies published in The American Journal of Epidemiology point to higher incidents of lung cancer occurring even in households where the radon levels are at the low end of that scale.
A British report goes even further with the potential for radon risk: "... calculations suggest that the dose to the basal layers of the skin may also be high, with a consequent possible risk of skin cancer. Unless countermeasures are taken, a smaller number of people may also run a significant risk of stomach cancer from radon ingested in drinking water." (UK National Radiological Protection Board, published in Journal of Radiological Protection 2002). Other studies conducted worldwide concur and document similar risks.
We urge you to have your homes tested for radon. We also urge you to stop smoking. The best way to beat lung cancer is prevention. Don't let it happen to you or your family. Take action now.