Radon: The invisible, odorless carcinogen
Written by Kelly Bothum
2011-12-08

Unless you are buying or selling a house, knowing the radon levels inside your home may not be on your safety radar. But public health officials say it should be, considering the risks posed by this odorless carcinogen.

Exposure to radon contributes to an estimated 20,000 lung cancer deaths annually, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. For people who smoke, radon can increase their already higher risk of developing lung cancer, a disease that kills nearly 157,000 people a year in the United States.

But even nonsmokers should worry about radon. Each year, about 3,000 people who have never smoked develop radon-induced lung cancer in the U.S., said Kevin Stewart, director of environmental health for the American Lung Association of the Mid-Atlantic, which includes Delaware.

Radon is is a gas produced by the decay of naturally occurring uranium in soil and water, so it's found in outdoor air. But it can get trapped indoors as air comes up through cracks in the house and foundation. Because radon is invisible -- colorless, odorless and tasteless -- homeowners wouldn't know if high levels of this potentially dangerous gas are building up in their home...

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