January 12, 2017
Jennifer Miller, 608-266-1683
Elizabeth Goodsitt, 608-266-1683

Radon Exposure Is The Second Leading Cause of Lung Cancer

Exposure is leading cause of lung cancer among non-smokers

Exposure to radon gas is one of the major contributors to lung cancer nationally, yet many people aren’t aware that an easy-to-use test kit can tell them if their home has high radon levels. That’s why Governor Scott Walker has proclaimed January National Radon Action Month for Wisconsin residents.

“Fortunately this cause of lung cancer is largely preventable, and the first step is to test your home,” said Dr. Jon Meiman, chief medical officer of the bureau of Environmental and Occupational Health in DHS. “If elevated radon is found, it can be easily and effectively corrected.”

Radon causes more lung cancer among non-smokers than second-hand tobacco smoke. An estimated 21,000 lung cancer deaths per year among non-smokers are caused by radon, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Surgeon General.

Radon, an odorless radioactive gas naturally present in the ground, can enter buildings through their foundations. “Any home having contact with the ground should be tested,” Meiman said. Radon concentrations in air can be measured with simple, inexpensive test kits available from hardware stores and local public health agencies.

More than 100 radon mitigation contractors in Wisconsin are nationally certified to install radon control systems. Thousands of systems are installed in existing homes in Wisconsin each year.  Newly constructed homes should include features recommended by the National Association of Home Builders to reduce radon entry.

Both old and newer homes can be susceptible to radon. From five to 10 percent of Wisconsin homes have elevated airborne concentrations or radon in commonly used spaces.

Wisconsin residents can get radon information here, or speak with local public health department radon experts by calling 1-888 LOW-RADON. More information can be found by viewing Radon 101, a video produced by DHS and the Department of Natural Resources (DNR).