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Radon in Kentucky

Combined effects of tobacco smoke and radon put Kentuckians at heightened risk of lung cancer

In Kentucky, a trifecta of risk factors contributes to a high prevalence of lung cancer.

High smoking rates and weak or nonexistent smoke-free laws in Kentucky are undeniably linked to high rates of lung cancer, but the soil underground also poses considerable dangers. Exposure to radon — an odorless, tasteless gas that escapes from our limestone-enriched landscape — also increases the risk of lung cancer. Our laws don't adequately protect Kentuckians through mandated testing and monitoring of radon levels or smoke-free protections.

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Lexington Business Helps Mitigate Deadly Cancer Risk

Lexington, KY – Sometimes life deals us a severe emotional setback such as the unexpected and shocking death of a loved one. Lois Turner Dees of Lexington knows the feeling too well. Her husband, Larry Turner, an associate dean and director of the cooperative extension service at the University of Kentucky, was aboard Comair Flight 5191 when it crashed at Blue Grass Airport in August 2006, killing 49 people.

Five years after that terrible accident, fate dealt Dees another blow. That fall, shebegan coughing uncontrollably. Her doctor ordered a round of antibiotics, then a chest x-ray, followed by CAT and PET scans. That’s when Dees was diagnosed with lung cancer.

“At one of those appointments, my doctor asked me, since I was a non-smoker, if I’d ever had our house tested for radon. I had not,” Dees explained. “When it was tested, on an acceptable scale of zero to four, our home tested at 32. It had eight times the acceptable level of radon in it.”