January is National Radon Action Month as designated by the US Environmental Protection Agency. But why should you care?
The #1 cause of lung cancer, and lung cancer deaths, after smoking is radon.
Did you know that radon causes more deaths than home fires, drownings, and airplane crashes combined?
Radon is essentially a silent carcinogen; it has no smell, no color, no taste, and cannot be detected without special measuring equipment. Radon comes from the decay of rocks or soils containing uranium. While the main source of radon is from bedrock, it can also be found in construction materials that have been mined — marble, granite, and even concrete aggregate.
Radon is believed to be the main source of passive radiation most people receive. No, not your cell phone, nor your microwave, but radon, that comes from the ground or from the walls around you is the main source of radiation in daily life.
So what can you do? Get tested.
What about radon in China?
In 1996 China’s ministries issued standards for radon in homes and underground construction. 1996年，国家质量技术监督局和卫生部联合发布了《住房氡浓度控制标准》和《地下建筑氡及其子体控制标准》，以此来控制室内氡的水平. (Source) Indoor air quality testing in China has found caves in Gansu, buildings in Guangzhou made with cinder blocks, and semi-basement housing to have the highest levels of radon in China.
You may be a candidate for radon testing if you:
- Live on or near the ground floor
- Have tables, countertops, etc made of natural stone (marble, granite)
- Live in an building with original concrete built in the 1970s or earlier
- Are in a high-risk group: smokers (radon and smoking results in 3x higher cancer rates than both separately), women (incidence of radon-induced lung cancer is 50% higher), or children (developing lungs, higher breathing rate)
The WHO has been working with Shanghai’s Hong Kou district to increase awareness and education about radon. Generally speaking there is low awareness and low risk of radon-related deaths in China, except in special circumstances.
If you have any concerns about radon in your living or working environment, please contact us.