For years, we have heard of the risks of radon-induced lung cancer. Lung cancer is the #1 killer of Americans out of all the types of cancer, with approximately 21,000 deaths every year being caused by radon-induced lung cancer alone. This figure can seem abstract until you start to look at the individual people who have battled and in some cases lost their fights with radon-induced lung cancer. It becomes an even more frustrating figure when you realize that risks from radon are easily prevented. The EPA recommends everyone to test their homes for radon and to mitigate a home if the levels are 4 pCi/L or higher.
In addition to lung cancer, new research is showing that radon can cause another type of deadly cancer.
Many people suffer from skin cancer. We normally associate skin cancer with UV exposure, but research from the Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute is showing that radon exposure can also increase a person’s risk for malignant melanoma. Also surprising: “The younger the individual is, the greater the impact of radon on the risk of developing the disease,” says Martin Röösli, professor for environmental epidemiology at Swiss TPH. Their research found that for individuals at 30 years old, the “relative risk for skin cancer increases around 50% per 100 Bq/m^3 [2.7 pCi/L] increase in radon exposure, while for the 60-year-olds it is considerably lower (16%).” This shows that for only moderate increases in radon level in a home, the risk of malignant melanoma sky-rockets, especially for younger persons.
This is yet another reason that it is important to test your home for a high level of radon. We spend the most amount of time at our homes, even if we simply return to them to fall into bed. Even a low level of radon over a period of years can increase your risk of lung cancer – and now we know skin cancer as well.
Contact a local home inspector who performs radon testing to get your home tested for radon. If your home is over 4.0 pCi/L, it is recommended by the EPA to have your home mitigated to lower your risks of both lung and skin cancer.
Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute. “Radon increases risk for malignant skin cancer.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 16 June 2017. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/06/170616102111.htm>.