Radon is a worldwide health risk in homes. Most radon-induced lung cancers occur from low- and medium-dose exposures in people’s homes. Radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer, after smoking, in many countries. The facts…

  • Lung cancer kills thousands of Americans every year. Smoking, radon, and secondhand smoke are the leading causes of lung cancer. Although lung cancer can be treated, the survival rate is one of the lowest among all those with cancer. From the time of diagnosis, between 11 and 15% of those afflicted will live beyond five years, depending upon demographic factors. In many cases, lung cancer can be prevented.
  • Smoking is the leading cause of lung cancer. Smoking causes an estimated 159,000 cancer deaths in the U.S. every year (American Cancer Society, 2014). And the rate among women is rising. On January 11, 1964, Dr. Luther L. Terry, then U.S. Surgeon General, issued the first warning on the link between smoking and lung cancer. Lung cancer now surpasses breast cancer as the number one cause of death among women. A smoker who is also exposed to radon has a much higher risk of lung cancer.
  • Radon is the number one cause of lung cancer among non-smokers, according to EPA estimates. Overall, radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer. Radon is responsible for about 20,000 lung cancer deaths every year. About 2,900 of these deaths occur among people who have never smoked. On January 13, 2005, Dr. Richard H. Carmona, the U.S. Surgeon General, issued a national health advisory on radon.
  • Secondhand smoke is the third leading cause of lung cancer and is responsible for an estimated 3,000 lung cancer deaths every year. Smoking affects non-smokers by exposing them to secondhand smoke. Exposure to secondhand smoke can have serious consequences for children’s health, including asthma attacks, effects on the respiratory tract (e.g., bronchitis, pneumonia), and possibly ear infections.

The following websites provide a wide range of comprehensive information about lung cancer and its prevention and treatment:

Your chances of getting lung cancer from radon depend mostly on:

  • how much radon is in your home;
  • the amount of time you spend in your home; and
  • whether you are a smoker, or have ever smoked.

The chances of getting lung cancer are higher if your home has elevated radon levels and you smoke or burn fuels that increase indoor particles. Being an informed consumer will help up better navigate and mitigate radon-related problems. Refer to the resources listed above for further information about radon and the strong connection to lung cancer.