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Rising lung cancer rates likely linked to radon gas exposure, researchers say

Radon in homes may be to blame for rise in lung cancer
Radon in homes may be to blame for rise in lung cancer 01:05

BOSTON - Lung cancer rates are on the rise, but not because more people are smoking. Scientists say a radioactive gas in our homes is likely to blame.

When someone is diagnosed with lung cancer, most people assume they have been a smoker. But 15% to 20% of lung cancers occur in people who have never smoked and patients tend to be younger, in their 40s and 50s.

Researchers at Ohio State University say rising lung cancer rates may largely be due to long-term exposure to radon gas that can seep from the ground into building foundations, including homes.

Radon is colorless and odorless so if you have high levels in your home, you wouldn't be able to sense it, therefore you have to test for it.

About 75% of Americans have not had their homes tested for radon even though the EPA recommends regular home testing. If levels are high, there are measures that can be taken to remove radon from the home, like increasing airflow in the home, sealing cracks in the floors, walls, and foundation, or installing a system that sucks air out of the basement.

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