EPA, American Lung Association take aim at radon to reduce lung cancer deaths
The EPA, American Lung Association, and other partners have announced a strategy for preventing 3,200 lung cancer deaths annually by 2020 through radon exposure reduction strategies. Exposure to radioactive radon gas is the second leading cause of lung cancer in America. The goal to save these lives will be achieved by reducing high radon levels in five million homes, apartments, schools and childcare centers. The partnership includes three federal departments and agencies, and nine national organizations.
“EPA is very pleased to be a partner in this important life-saving effort to prevent lung cancer caused by radon. Working together creates new opportunities for reducing the risk from radon. Combining our resources will save American lives by magnifying our effectiveness in preventing exposure to radon in homes and schools,” said EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy.
The National Radon Action Plan: A Strategy for Saving Lives sets out strategies to drive the changes needed to reduce exposure to radon. Strategies include requiring radon testing and reduction systems as a standard practice in housing finance and insurance programs, and institutionalizing radon risk reduction through building code requirements.
The strategy builds on the successes of the 2011 Federal Radon Action Plan, which has led to protections from radon in more than 105,000 multi-family homes financed by HUD, among other actions by the federal government. Today’s plan broadens the scope and reach of the Federal Radon Action Plan by including the health, scientific and technical expertise of the national partners.
What is radon and why is it so dangerous?
Radon is a radioactive gas that comes from the decay of uranium in the ground. Nearly all soils contain some naturally occurring uranium. Radon seeps up from the soil into buildings where it can accumulate to high levels. Since radon is invisible and odorless, dangerous levels can exist indoors without occupants knowing. Testing is the only way to know the radon level in your home or school. Exposure to radon causes an estimated 21,000 lung cancer deaths annually. After smoking, radon is the second-leading cause of lung cancer. However, affordable measures effective in reducing radon indoors are available, and when employed can prevent radon-induced lung cancer and save lives.
The collaborative strategy aligns federal efforts with those of other national organizations dedicated to lowering radon exposure: the American Lung Association (ALA), American Association of Radon Scientists and Technologists (AARST), the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI), Cancer Survivors Against Radon (CanSAR), the Children’s Environmental Health Network (CEHN), Citizens for Radioactive Radon Reduction, the Conference of Radiation Control Program Directors (CRCPD), the Environmental Law Institute (ELI), and the National Center for Healthy Housing (NCHH). In addition to EPA, the federal partners are the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).
The new National Plan can be found at www.epa.gov/radon/national-radon-action-plan-strategy-saving-lives.
For more information visit www2.epa.gov/radon.