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Surgeon General releases national health advisory on radon

Physician Practice Advisor, January 18, 2005

U.S. Surgeon General Richard H. Carmona warned the public about the risks of breathing indoor radon by issuing a national health advisory Jan. 13. The advisory is meant to urge Americans to prevent this silent radioactive gas from seeping into their homes and building up to dangerous levels.

"Indoor radon is the second-leading cause of lung cancer in the United States and breathing it over prolonged periods can present a significant health risk to families all over the county," Carmona said during a two-day Surgeon General's Workshop on Healthy Indoor Environment. "It's important to know that this threat is completely preventable. Radon can be detected with a simple test and fixed through well-established venting techniques."

Radon is an invisible, odorless, and tasteless gas, that causes no immediate health symptoms, that comes from the breakdown of uranium inside the earth. Simple test kits can reveal the amount of radon in any building. Those with high levels can be fixed with simple and affordable venting techniques. According to U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates, one in every 15 homes nationwide has a high radon level at or above the recommended radon action level of four picoCuries (pCi/L) per liter of air.

For more information, go to EPA's Web site www.epa.gov, call your state radon office, or call 1-800-SOS-RADON.