We are being subjected to an EPA "campaign of fear" via radio and TV ads claiming that radon is the second highest cause of lung cancer, next to smoking. A TV ad shows a boy in his bedroom with his dog, wearing a gas mask. The ad said, "Radon is a silent killer," and "it is like exposing your family to hundreds of chest X-rays per year." But new studies show no direct relationship between radon and lung cancer, and that people living in houses with higher levels have the lowest lung cancer rate.
Dr. Bernard Cohen, a nuclear scientist at the University of Pittsburgh, reported to a November 1996 meeting of the American Nuclear Society that up to a certain limit, radon exposure helps to reduce the risk of cancer by the activation of cell repair mechanism. This is similar to getting a small amount of a deadly disease in a vaccine. His work indicated that those living in states with the highest natural radon levels, Colorado, North Dakota and Iowa, have much lower cancer rates than those in (states) with the lowest levels, California, Delaware and Louisiana. He reported that radon and similar low-level radiation may in fact be beneficial to your health.
A study of several hundred women in China concluded that those in high-level radon homes had a 30 percent lower lung cancer risk than those in low-level radon homes. A study in Japan showed a 37 percent lower rate and similar reports came from Canada, Sweden, Denmark, Finland and Great Britain.
This was written in 1997. Now in 2002 a large British study included about 2,200 children with cancer and 3,500 without and found that those who lived in the higher radon level areas had almost 50 percent fewer cancers. Will EPA listen?
Please don't panic when you hear these oft-repeated warnings because the science is beginning to catch up with the panic. As radio comedian Earl Pitts signs off, "Wake up, America.”
JAMES BOB GRESHAM