By Gunn-Berit Neergård
The media these days is overloaded with articles about the harmful toxins of normal, everyday life. The news tells us that almost all of our surroundings, food, and activities are dangerous in one way or the other.
How should we deal with all of the scaremongering? Understanding the harmful carcinogens out there isn’t easy, and it can certainly be overwhelming. It might even be tempting just to stop reading. But don’t. Because inbetween these crazy headlines, there are some voices worth listening to.
As a nurse with experience in cancer wards, the one organization out there that I trust more than any other is the World Health Organization (WHO). WHO is the directing health authority within the United Nations. It provides leadership on global health and sets the norms and standards within the field of health work. And when WHO states that something really is a health threat, they’re doing so based on decades of research, and years of testing and evaluation. That’s why we should all sit up and listen to their warning about the risks of radon gas, which they explained in their 2009 report, in which they say, “Exposure to radon in the home and workplace is one of the main risks of ionizing radiation causing tens of thousands of deaths from lung cancer each year globally.”
Radon is a carcinogen. It’s a naturally occuring, radioactive gas, and it can hurt your lung tissue without you feeling a thing. Radon gas has no smell, colour, odor, or taste, and it accumulates in enclosed spaces and buildings, including the home.
Now for the good news: radon-induced lung cancer is totally preventable, and you can easily test your house. If you test immediately (in other words, don’t wait until you sell the house), you’ll know for sure if you’re living in an environment free of radioactive radon. Information about radon testing is available at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and through the American Lung Association.
And if you’re still not convinced that this is an important warning to act on, here’s one final voice you should listen to. Her name is Elizabeth Hoffmann, and she was the founder of CanSAR: Cancer Survivors Against Radon. After 15 years living in a house with dangerous levels of radon, Liz was diagnosed with lung cancer at age 37. Liz fought radon-induced lung cancer for a decade, and admirably founded CanSAR during these years. Her memory and incredible work was honored last week at the 28th International Radon Symposium. Please watch and share the video, and spread the word of this preventable health risk.
Gunn-Berit Neergård is a nurse and CEO of GEM Radon Detectors.