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Risks for Radon Can Be Higher in Native Homes

Thursday, November 6th


The EPA says the risk of developing lung cancer after radon exposure is significantly higher for those who smoke. That fact has caught the attention of Native American activists. American Indians and Alaskan Natives rank highest among racial and ethnic groups for smoking in adults and youth. Nearly 22% of adults in those groups smoke, compared to 18% of all US adults.

That means testing and mitigating Native Homes for radon is even more important. The manager of the Spokane Tribe's Air Quality Program knew all about the dangers of radon, but when she tested her home, she found an average of 33 pCi/L (the EPA danger level is 4 pCi/L). Twa-le Abrahamson-Swan is not a smoker but those radon levels would mean her risk of lung cancer would be the same as smoking five packs per day! She testified in front of the U.S. House of Representatives, seeking additional radon-related funding, especially for awareness and mitigation in Native Homes.

The Environmental Protection Agency has an Indoor Air Quality Tribal Partners site. They also have a site geared toward Native children. To read more about what is being done in Indian Country to spread the awareness of radon dangers, click here.

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