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See Risk Charts Below

Facts & Estimates from the National Research Council, the National Academy of Sciences and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.  as published.  "Biological Effects of Ionizing Radiation" (BEIR VI, 1998), "Risk Assessment of Radon in Drinking Water" (1999), and "EPA Assessment of Risks from Radon in Homes" (2003):

  • Radon in homes caused 21,100 lung cancer deaths in the U.S. in 1995 (14.4 percent out of the total of 146,400 lung cancer deaths)
  • Radon in homes is the second leading cause of lung cancer deaths in the U.S.
  • Radon causes about 1 in 8 (12%) of the lung cancers among ever-smokers (most die of smoking) but 1 in 4 (26%) among never-smokers. Radon is the No. 1 cause of lung cancer among non-smokers – about 15,000 deaths each year in people who never used cigarettes.
  • Radon works faster than the usual lung cancer - people die younger. The average age for radon-induced lung cancer is 65 years compared to 72 for all lung cancer deaths.
  • The passage of a single alpha particle can cause mutations of DNA and some damaged cells may become cancerous. Most cancers originate from damage to a single cell. The more radiation particles pass through the human body, the higher the chances of developing cancer. Therefore, the lung cancer risk is proportional to the radon concentration in the inhaled air and the length of exposure.
  • Radon is dangerous at any level: 70 percent of radon-attributed deaths are caused by homes with radon below 4 pCi/L, 50 percent by levels below 2 pCi/L, and only 30 percent by radon below the mean (average) level of 1.25 pCi/L. Even the low outdoor levels not harmless - NAS estimates that out of the 21,000 lung cancer deaths caused by radon each year, 800 are caused by the natural radon levels outdoors (average 0.45 pCi/L).

↓  Radon Risk If You Smoke
Radon Level
pCi/L
If 1,000 people who smoked were exposed to this level over a lifetime ... The risk of cancer from radon exposure compares to ...
20 About 260 people could get lung cancer 250 times the risk of drowning
10 About 150 people could get lung cancer 200 times the risk of dying in a home fire
8 About 120 people could get lung cancer 30 times the risk of dying in a fall
4 About 62 people could get lung cancer 5 times the risk of dying in a car crash
2 About 32 people could get lung cancer 6 times the risk of dying from poison
1.3 About 20 people could get lung cancer (Average indoor radon level)
0.4 About 3 people could get lung cancer (Average outdoor radon level)
   Radon Risk If You've Never Smoked  
Radon Level
pCi/L
If 1,000 people who smoked were exposed to this level over a lifetime ... The risk of cancer from radon exposure compares to ...
20 About 36 people could get lung cancer 35 times the risk of drowning
10 About 18 people could get lung cancer 20 times the risk of dying in a home fire
8 About 15 people could get lung cancer 4 times the risk of dying in a fall
4 About 7 people could get lung cancer The risk of dying in a car crash
2 About 4 person could get lung cancer The risk of dying from poison
1.3 About 2 people could get lung cancer (Average indoor radon level)
0.4  (Average outdoor radon level)