Skip top navigation

Environmental health

Radon: The silent killer in your home

Tobacco smoke in a home is easy to detect as it drifts through the air or leaves its odor in clothes or furniture. Its health toll is equally as obvious as the leading cause of lung cancer in the U.S.

Less obvious and almost as deadly is radon, an odorless gas that causes 21,000 lung cancer deaths a year. Radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the U.S. and the leading cause of lung cancer in non-smokers. It's a bigger concern during cold winters like the one we've just experienced when radon levels sky rocket in well-sealed homes.

The odorless gas is caused by the natural breakdown of uranium in soil and water and seeps into homes through drains and cracks in the foundation. While radon is natural in the air, levels can be harmful when it is trapped inside a house.

In the U.S. 1 in 15 homes have unsafe radon levels, according to the Environmental Protection Agency website.

Visiting Your Doctor with Environmental Concerns

Newswise — Preparing for visits to our doctors or other healthcare providers is an important step to a successful outcome. Give your questions and concerns to your providers ahead of time, so that they can help address them and find additional resources as needed. If you have a particular concern, share it when you are scheduling the visit so the provider will have the chance to prepare for your questions about it.

Healthcare providers routinely ask questions about environmental health issues and consider the possible role of environmental exposures when evaluating your child. Unfortunately, healthcare providers, even doctors and nurses, typically have not received much training on environmental health issues, but they recognize the importance of environmental health concerns of their patients, and they seek further education and expertise about environmental health when needed.

Where does my health care provider get information about environmental health issues?