Here's some simple advice to pass on to your clients that may help save their lives.
Tell them to have their home tested for radon, the leading cause of nonsmoking lung cancer, cases of which have been on the rise. And if any of your clients do smoke, that's all the more reason they should have their homes tested--smokers have an even higher risk than nonsmokers of developing cancer as a result of radon gas exposure.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and eight other federal agencies announced a new effort this week to strengthen the fight against exposure by creating a national risk reduction plan for radon.
The EPA and Surgeon General are urging every homeowner who hasn't tested for radon in at least two years to do so. Radon levels in soil can vary over time, so getting clean results on your new home doesn't guarantee that you aren't being exposed five years later. People can contact their state radon office for information on locating qualified test kits or radon testers. You'll also be able to see if your area tend to have high radon levels.
Radon is a naturally occurring, invisible and odorless radioactive gas that's present at high levels in one in 15 American homes. Millions of Americans are unknowingly exposed to this dangerous gas, but testing your home and fixing any problem avoids the health hazard from it.
In fact, I wish radon risks were more publicized years ago, especially the fact that levels vary over time. My mother, who never smoked a day in her life, developed lung cancer. It's true that she was exposed to secondhand smoke. But as a stay-at-home mom, she was the one at home the most--the same home for more than 40 years. We did test the house once after she was diagnosed and radon levels weren't excessive. But one unsettling piece of information we did learn was that the county in which she lives, and particularly her town, has higher-than-average levels of radon. So who knows what the levels might have been 20 or 30 years ago coming into her home?
The EPA and Surgeon General's advice this month to get your home tested every two years seems like a good idea to me.