Have You Talked to Your Patients About Radon?

Date of Publication January 4, 2018

January is National Radon Action Month. As a physician, you ask your patients if they smoke, but do you ask them if they test their homes for radon? The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, American Medical Association, American Lung Association, and the Surgeon General all recognize radon as the second-leading cause of lung cancer. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that 21,000 lung cancer deaths each year in the United States are attributed to radon exposure (EPA, 2017).

Iowa has the highest percentage of homes with radon levels higher than the indoor radon action level of 4 pCi/L set by the Environmental Protection Agency, with five out of seven homes having elevated radon levels. An estimated 400 Iowans die each year from radon-induced lung cancer — more than the number of Iowans that die each year in traffic accidents (American Lung Association, n.d.).

The good news is radon-induced lung cancer is preventable. In addition, as a health care provider, you have a special role in preventing radon-induced lung cancer. A brief discussion with your patients about radon could save their lives.

To learn more about radon in Iowa and its negative impacts on health, access these radon information resources provided by the American Lung Association and the Iowa Department of Public Health. Encourage your patients to call the Iowa Radon Hotline at 1-800-383-5992 to learn more about radon, home radon testing and mitigation, as well as to order a radon-testing home kit. Testing kits may also be ordered online. A question about radon testing could be incorporated into your clinic’s electronic medical records system or intake form.

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