How Does Radon Cause Lung Cancer?


Radon, a naturally occurring radioactive element, is unstable and decays to other radioactive elements, called radon decay products.  When each atom decays, it emits a highly charged alpha particle and a radon decay product.  When radon and its decay products are inhaled, they emit alpha particles, which can damage the living cells in your lungs, causing radon-induced lung cancer. 


In the United States, the outdoor radon level (0.4 pCi/L) is low and your risk of getting lung cancer is also low.  But, at the higher levels frequently found in homes, your risk is greater.  Reducing radon levels inside buildings can greatly lower this risk.  The US EPA recommends reducing radon levels in buildings to below 4 pCi/L to lower your risk of radon-induced lung cancer.

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