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Study Shows Unsafe Radon Levels At Home On Rise

Date Published: 09/27/2006 [Source]

Study Shows Unsafe Radon Levels At Home On Rise

(CBS) CHICAGO You can't see it or smell it, but a dangerous gas could be in your home. The number of houses in Illinois with high radon levels is on the rise.

The findings are particularly troubling because radon is the second-leading cause of lung cancer.

As CBS 2 Chief Correspondent Jay Levine reports, experts are warning homeowners to get their homes tested.

Radon is a gas produced naturally in soil, rock, and water. It's all around us. The average outdoor concentration is 0.4 and the average indoor concentration is 1.3. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency considers a concentration of 4.0 or above cause for concern.

A new study of radon screening in Illinois covered 22,000 homes; 46 percent of those homes were judged unsafe by that EPA standard.

In Cook, DuPage, Lake, McHenry and Will Counties, between 25 and 50 percent of those tested had radon levels considered unsafe.

In DeKalb and Kane counties, more than 50 percent did.

But Dr. Jim Mulchine, a cancer specialist at Rush University Medical Center formerly with the National Cancer Institute, said there's no reason to panic.

"Exposure to tobacco smoke, which is 90 percent of the risk of lung cancer . The next thing is radon, which is some fraction of 10 percent. So that the relative risk of smoking versus radomn is very, very different," Mulchine said.

Mulchine agreed with the study's recommendation that we all get our homes tested for radon gas.