Try a search...

Back to all


January is Radon Awareness Month

Did you know that nearly 1 out of 15 homes has high radon levels?

Radon is an odorless and invisible radioactive gas released from rocks, soil and water. It can get into your home and build up and, over time, breathing in high levels can cause lung cancer.

“Lung cancer is the top cancer we see here at Cookeville Regional Medical Center,” said Beth Slatten, lung nurse navigator. “It is the leading cause of cancer death for both men and women worldwide. It ranks number three overall in cases for Tennessee. But it can be caught early with a low-dose CT lung cancer screening, which is offered at Cookeville Regional.”

Radon exposure causes about 21,000 lung cancer deaths each year, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. Radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer after smoking.

Any home, new or old, in any state can have high levels of radon.

When you breathe in radon, radioactive particles from the decay of radon gas can get trapped in your lungs. It takes many years for lung cancer to develop.  Most people don’t have symptoms until lung cancer is advanced and at that point it is harder to treat. For these reasons, it is important to take steps to reduce radon exposure throughout your life to help prevent lung cancer.

Factors that increase your risk of getting lung cancer from radon include the following:

  • High radon levels in your home or another building that you regularly spend time in
  • High radon levels in the part of the home or building where you spend the most time (Radon levels are often higher in basements and lower levels.)
  • Smoking cigarettes, currently or in the past
  • Burning wood, coal, or other substances that add particles to air

Currently, no conclusive data show whether children are at greater risk than adults from radon.

Purchasing a radon test kit, testing your home or office and sending the kit to an approved lab for results are the only way to know the levels. If there are unsafe levels, contact your state radon office to help you find a qualified or state-certified radon contractor in your area to fix your home.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development recommends these actions you can take to reduce your risks of lung cancer and help lower radon levels in your home:

  • Increase air flow in your house by opening windows and using fans and vents to circulate air. However, natural ventilation in any type of house is only a temporary strategy to reduce radon.
  • Seal cracks in floors and walls with plaster, caulk, or other mate­rials designed for this purpose.
  • You can cover the earth floor in crawl spaces with a high-density plastic sheet. A vent pipe and fan can be used to blow the radon from under the sheet and vent it to the outdoors.Talk to your primary care physician about a low-dose CT lung scan if you meet the criteria.

Keep Reading