January 10, 2013
Claire Yunker, 608-266-1683

Radon Exposure is Leading Cause of Lung Cancer Among Non-Smokers

January is National Radon Action Month

MADISON-State health officials are encouraging homeowners to check their home's radon levels because exposure to radioactive radon gas is the leading cause of lung cancer among non-smokers nationwide and the second leading cause overall.

"Radon causes more lung cancer among non-smokers than even second-hand tobacco smoke," said Dr. Henry Anderson, State Health Officer. "Fortunately this cause of lung cancer is largely preventable, and the first step is to test your home. If an elevated radon level is found, it can be easily and effectively corrected."

Radon is an odorless radioactive gas that is naturally present in the ground and can enter buildings through their foundations. Both old and newer homes can be susceptible to radon. Between 5 and 10 percent of Wisconsin homes have elevated airborne concentrations in areas where people spend the most time, according to state data. Radon concentrations vary greatly from home to home and any home having contact with the ground should be tested.

Radon concentrations in indoor air can be measured with simple, inexpensive test kits available from hardware stores and local public health agencies. Winter is an ideal time to test for radon because windows and doors are closed.

More than 60 radon mitigation contractors in Wisconsin are nationally certified and install highly effective soil-depressurization radon control systems. Thousands of systems are installed in existing homes in Wisconsin each year. New construction should include features recommended by the National Association of Home Builders to reduce radon entry.

An estimated 20,000 lung cancer deaths annually in the United States are caused by radon among non-smokers, according to reports by the Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Surgeon General.

For information about radon in Wisconsin, visit:

To reach local public health agency experts, call 1-888 LOW-RADON (1-888-569-7236).