CR3 News Magazine 2018 February: Black History Special Edition - Page 39

Radon is a silent killer.

Could it be in your home?

"Long-term exposure to radon can lead to lung cancer, which is the only cancer proven to be associated with inhaling radon," said health specialist at the Cancer Association of South Africa, Professor Michael Herbst.

He added that there had been a suggestion of increased risk of leukemia associated with radon exposure in adults and children; however the evidence was not conclusive.

Radon was classified as a human carcinogen by the International Agency for Research on Cancer in 1988 (IARC 1988) after several studies found that miners exposed occupationally to radon, usually at high concentrations, demonstrated a notably increased risk of lung cancer.

In the US, radon is the nation's second leading cause of lung cancer. Worldwide, radon causes a million deaths from lung cancer every decade.

"Radon occurs naturally and everyone is exposed to it to some extent," Dr Rian Strydom told Health24.

Strydom, who has been working independently in the radon field since 1984, said although inhalation of radon increased the risk of contracting lung cancer, there were no certain short-term effect of exposure to the gas.

"Remember that radon raises the risk of lung cancer, and it is impossible to identify radon directly as the cause of the cancer. The effect is not clearly seen."

He noted that this aspect was controversial and the subject of international research effort. However, Professor Herbst said: "Scientists agree that radon causes lung cancer in humans."

The SA National Nuclear Regulator (NNR) has conceded that South Africa is not immune to a dangerous gas known as radon, but it added that the levels of the gas in our homes are not a cause for alarm.

But what makes this gas so dangerous? Radon is an invisible, tasteless and scentless gas that is believed to increase the risk of lung cancer, which is a leading killer of cancer deaths in South Africans.

KILLER GAS

Why SA Homes Are

Not Tested For Radon

The National Nuclear Regulator tells Health24 SA is not immune to radon, which is linked to lung cancer - a top killer in South Africa.

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