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radon and health

West Salem cancer cases attract international interest, more research

A Massachusetts-based researcher will partner with experts in Oregon and England to study whether there is a link between radon and a rare childhood bone cancer called osteosarcoma.

The study was prompted by a cancer cluster in West Salem, said Chris Neurath, research director for the American Environmental Health Studies Project. Neurath has been studying osteosarcoma for about eight years, he said.

At least five West Salem children were diagnosed with osteosarcoma between 2008 and 2012. Three have died.

“This cluster is very dramatic in terms of numbers and the improbability that it could occur by chance,” Neurath said.

A 2006 study in England found a strong link between osteosarcoma and radon in homes. No such study has been done in the United States, Neurath said.

“The West Salem situation seemed like an opportunity that was rather unusual, that could help find out causes of osteosarcoma generally, not just in West Salem,” he said.

A Risk You Can Fix: Protect Your Family’s Health by Testing Your Home for Radon Gas in 2014 / 21,000 Radon-Related Lung Cancer Deaths Each Year

As Americans across the country look for ways to improve their health this New Year, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is highlighting radon testing and mitigation as a simple and affordable step to significantly reduce the risk for lung cancer. Radon is a natural colorless, odorless radioactive gas, and is the leading cause of lung cancer among non-smokers, but testing for radon and reducing elevated levels when they are found can make your home healthier and safer.

“Testing for radon is an easy and affordable way to protect your family’s health,” said EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy. ”Radon is a radioactive gas that can be found in homes all across the country; the only way to know if your home has high levels is to test it.”

Part of EPA’s radon action campaign is to remind people to “Test, Fix, Save a Life,” and to recognize every January as radon action month.