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RADON RISK

ANCHOR LEAD:  THE EPA ESTIMATES A LARGE NUMBER OF DEATHS EACH YEAR DUE TO RADON EXPOSURE, ELIZABETH TRACEY REPORTS

The US Environmental Protection Agency recently released an estimate that about 20,000 deaths occur each year due to radon exposure.  When such exposure is chronic it may result in lung cancer.  William Nelson, director of the Kimmel Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins, describes trends in lung cancer clinically.

NELSON:  If you look now with the decline in cigarette smoking the people who show up with lung cancer these days are more often not current smokers than current smokers.  Many of these men and women have been never smokers.  The question is what is the source of their lung cancer risk?  Is it exposure to cigarette smoke? In a secondhand way, secondhand smoking, or is it radon?  I’m not sure we know clearly enough but I suspect there will be ways to ask that question in more and more refined ways.                :30

About 15 to 20% of lung cancers occur in never smokers, and radon may be an important contributor. At Johns Hopkins, I’m Elizabeth Tracey.



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