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January 11, 2010

Marla Augustine, Communications and Legislative Services, (402) 471-4047 or

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Radon is Leading Cause of Lung Cancer in Nonsmokers

Governor Proclaims January as Radon Action Month

Lincoln--Most people know that smoking is the leading cause of lung cancer, but they may not know that nonsmokers are also susceptible to the disease. Exposure to radon can lead to lung cancer, and it is the primary cause for nonsmokers. The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that approximately 21,000 lung cancer deaths per year are due to radon exposure.

Radon is a colorless, odorless, naturally occurring gas that originates in the soil and builds to dangerous levels in homes.

“In Nebraska, 50 percent of radon tests conducted yield elevated levels of radon. We clearly have a high incidence in our state,” said Dr. Joann Schaefer, Chief Medical Officer and Director of the Division of Public Health in the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services.

For nonsmokers, the best way to reduce risk of lung cancer is to test for radon, and if levels are high, to mitigate the home. Winter months are the best time for Nebraskans to test for radon in their homes because during winter, homes are closed up and can trap the toxic gas, causing it to build to dangerous levels.

The Nebraska Radon Program offers low-cost radon test kits in an effort to encourage people to test their homes. Most homes with high levels of radon can be successfully treated using a standard radon mitigation system. The program provides technical assistance to those who have questions about the mitigation system. A list of trained professionals is available at the Nebraska Radon Program website:

To purchase a short-term radon test kit for $5, send a check or money order with name and mailing address to: Nebraska Radon Program, 301 Centennial Mall South, Lincoln, NE 68509.

To learn more about radon and the Nebraska Radon Program, visit the website at For more information, call the Nebraska Radon Hotline at 1-800-334-9491 or contact your local health department which you can find at

Governor Dave Heineman has proclaimed January to be Radon Action Month.

“We appreciate the Governor’s proclamation,” Dr. Schaefer said. “It supports our goal of raising awareness and ultimately saving lives.”

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