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State Lawmakers Push Crackdown on Cancer-Causing Radon

Lawmakers in at least three states are combatting what public health experts call the “silent killer” — radon, an invisible, odorless gas that that seeps into buildings through cracked walls and foundations.

Bills filed in Iowa and Nebraska, and a proposal taking shape in Utah aim to reduce people’s exposure to the gas, the second-leading cause of lung cancer behind tobacco. Radon kills about 21,000 people each year, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

The state efforts come as health advocates push to bolster a patchwork of randon laws they say has raised public awareness but still comes up short, and as states fear federal help will face the budget axe.

“We’ve got to get smart about this preventable problem,” says Matt McCoy, an Iowa state senator. “Our hope is that more people will become aware of it and start testing.”

Invisible and Odorless, Radon Poses Risks to Lungs

Invisible and Odorless, Radon Poses Risks to Lungs

FRIDAY, March 11 (HealthDay News) -- It may be hard to think of radiation as a present and serious environmental health concern in the United States, much less one with the potential to affect nearly every home in the country.

But a radioactive gas known as radon is responsible for an estimated 21,000 lung cancer deaths every year, according to the U.S. National Cancer Institute.

"It's the second leading cause of lung cancer, and, for non-smokers, it is the leading cause of lung cancer," said Kristy Miller, a spokeswoman for the indoor environments division of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. "It is invisible and odorless. It causes no symptoms. You possibly may be breathing in high levels and not even know it."

Radon gas is created by the breakdown of uranium in rocks, soil and water. It seeps up through the ground and into homes through foundation cracks and crawl spaces.