Over the last 50 years, we have been so thoroughly versed in the dangers of smoking and its relationship to the illness that when we hear about lung cancer in non-smokers, we tend to be surprised. That surprise is misplaced. According to the American Cancer Society, there are many reasons for lung cancer in non-smokers, with roughly 20,000 cases caused by radon.
Radon is a naturally-occurring radioactive gas that can cause lung cancer in non-smokers. It also increases the risk of developing other types of cancer, including malignant melanoma. The gas has no color, no smell, and no taste. It is the number two leading cause of lung cancer and often results from the gas rising through cracks in the floors or walls of homes, schools and other buildings. In some cases, residents in developments with high levels of radon have filed lawsuits against developers for failing to properly disclose radiation levels to property owners, or for failing to mitigate problematic levels of radon when it has been found.
Well Water Contaminated by Radon Often the Cause of Lung Cancer in Non-Smokers
Water wells are another source of radon exposure that can lead to lung cancer in non-smokers. The state of Pennsylvania has been identified as one area with high levels of radon in 14 percent of its water wells. When well water is contaminated with the gas, it can be released by an action as simple as washing the dishes, taking a shower, or running a washing machine or dishwasher. Each of these activities dramatically increases the presence of the gas within the home and can lead to a potentially deadly long-term exposure.
As a home buyer, it is important to understand how radon can have an impact on your health, and protect yourself against radon exposure that can cause lung cancer in non-smokers. The gas does not have an immediate impact: it happens over a long period of time. Home inspections can include testing for radon, and in some states, these tests are required by law. Mediation for radon exposure is available for about $1,200, though there have been instances in which the work that has been done has proven to be insufficient.