I am always amazed at how a title like “Indoor Air Pollution Can Kill You” reminds me of media’s sensationalism. In order to sell more newspapers, the media is always trying to shock you and cause fear instead of educating the public properly. Unfortunately, this is mostly due to human psychology and our short attention span, which leads to a short shocking story. Lets look at the facts.
There are an estimated 160,000 deaths due to lung cancer in the U.S. every year. Out of those approximately 10% or 16,000 deaths per year may be attributed to radon exposure according to the American Lung Association. The CDC reports 2,470,000 deaths per year in the United States and the two major preventable causes are heart disease and cancer. The most common type of cancer is lung cancer and has the lowest survivability rate of 16.3% after 5 years. The EPA estimates the risk of death from radon based on a lifetime exposure to 4 pCi/liter of radon is 0.7% if you are a nonsmoker or 6% if you are a smoker. If your home has high levels of radon, lets say 20 pCi/liter, then the risk of death jumps to 3.6% for nonsmokers and 26% for smokers. While smoking by itself has a lifetime death risk of 50% due to cancer and other related diseases according to Med India. It is important to remember that this is the percent chance you will die from this factor versus all the other ways you could die. Of course death is inevitable, here is the Buddhist coming out in me.
So what does this all mean? You should test radon levels in your home, reduce radon levels above 4 pCi/liter by installing a radon mitigation system and reduce your risk of developing lung cancer due to radon. This is not something to panic about, it is something to be aware of and do something about so you reduce your lifetime exposure. Most of the time it is not that expensive, remember that prevention is always less expensive than fixing your health.
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By Adrien Tanguay, President of ACT Home Inspections Inc., NYS Lic #16000059233