NPR had an insightful, non-scary story last week about radon and its dangers. Read and listen to the whole thing.
Radon is a heavy, radioactive gas that can seep out of the soil into basements and other parts of a house. There’s no question that inhaling a lot of radon is bad for you, but some scientists think such statements could use a little context. … The EPA estimates that among people who have never smoked, radon accounts for fewer than 3,000 radon deaths each year. The huge difference in risk is because smoking and radon appear to have a powerful synergy when it comes to lung cancer.
Price says that piece of information has important implications.
“If you want to reduce the number of radon-induced lung cancer deaths in the country, one thing you could do is reduce radon for everybody,” he says. “A better thing would be to reduce radon just for the smokers maybe, because they’re the ones with the largest risk from radon. But of course you’d do even better by getting them to stop smoking.”