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Promising Practices Brief: How to Reduce Radon in Homes

Radon is a radioactive gas that occurs naturally in the environment and can cause cancer. Every year, radon is estimated to cause about 21,000 lung cancer deaths in the United States. Unlike better-known home hazards like asbestos and lead-based paint, many people are unaware of the danger of household radon exposure. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that 1 of 15 homes in the United States (as many as 1 of 3 homes in some states)—about 7 million homes—have high radon levels.

Radon exposure is thought to cause more deaths each year than other household dangers like poisoning, falls, fires, and drowning. Each year, lung cancer caused by radon costs about $2 billion in medical care expenses and lost productivity.

Bar chart showing home-related deaths per year in the United States, by cause. Radon causes about 21,000 deaths per year; poisoning, 13,000 deaths; falls, 10,000 deaths; fires, 3,000 deaths; and drowning, 800 deaths.

*Radon is thought to cause about 21,000 lung cancer deaths per year, according to EPA’s 2003 Assessment of Risks of Radon in Homes (EPA 402-R-03-003) [PDF-548KB]. The numbers of unintentional injury-related deaths in the home from other causes are estimates from the 2000–2008 National Vital Statistics System presented in: Mack KA, Rose A, Mickalide AD, Ballesteros M. Fatal unintentional injuries in the home in the U.S., 2000–2008. American Journal of Preventive Medicine 2013;44(3):239–246.