Overall, radon is estimated to be responsible for approximately 21,000 lung cancer deaths every year in the US alone. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates radon causes up to 15% of lung cancers worldwide, and Health Canada puts this number at 16%.
When you breath radon gas, some of the particles can settle in your lung tissue and begin to decay. As the radon particles decay they release bursts of energy that can damage the lung tissue cells. Over time the cell damage can lead to the development of cancer.
Your risk of developing lung cancer from radon depends on the concentration of radon in the air you breathe, and the length of time you are exposed. Recent studies by the WHO have confirmed that the lung cancer risk extends to radon levels well below the current standards in North America and Europe. Health Canada recommends that all homeowners test their homes for radon gas to ensure their family safety.
Alan Whitehead is a Gold supporter of CanSAR and a founding Board Member of CARST.