The Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE), in partnership with the Kansas Radon Program, encourages Kansans to take action this January by learning about radon and how its risks can be lowered.
Radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer, behind cigarette smoking. 1 in 4 homes in Kansas test high for radon. It is a radioactive gas from the breakdown of naturally occurring uranium in the soil. Radon can’t be seen, heard or smelled, so the only way to know if a home has high levels of radon is to test.
The risk of developing lung cancer from radon exposure increases dramatically in people who smoke. People who smoke or are exposed to secondhand smoke and are exposed to radon have a ten times greater risk of developing lung cancer from radon exposure compared with people who do not smoke and are exposed to the same radon levels.
The Cancer Burden Report of 2021 states, on average, each year, more than 1,900 lung cancers are diagnosed among Kansas residents, and more than 70% of them (about 1,350 cases) are diagnosed in late stage. In addition, about 1,500 Kansans die from the disease annually.
There are several ways to lower the risk of lung cancer. The best thing to prevent lung cancer is never to start smoking or to quit smoking and avoid secondhand smoke whenever possible. No matter how long an individual has used tobacco, quitting can reduce their risk for cancer and other chronic diseases. Homes can also be tested for high radon levels and fixed if the radon levels are too high.
Learn more about what Kansas is doing to reduce the risk of cancer among Kansans by reading the 2022-2027 Kansas Cancer Prevention and Control Plan.
Get a low-cost, short-term radon test kit at your local K-State Extension office.
Learn more about the relationship between tobacco and radon here.