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Radon Gas - Recent Controversies About Radon

The EPA, The U.S. Surgeon General, NIOSH, The American Lung Association, The American Cancer Society, The World Health Organization, The Consumers Union, The National Research Council's Committee on the Biological Effects of Ionizing Radiation and The American Medical Association all agree that radon in home and work places is dangerous. The Health Physics Society, however, claim that radon is not a significant health risk when compared directly to smoking.
 
Further controversy exists on the exact numbers with which to measure risk. For example, using the same studies, the National Council of Radiation Protection (NCRP) estimated that about 7 out of every 1,000 people would die from lung cancer attributable to radon and RDP exposure (over a 70 year period) at a level of .02 WL (4 pCi/L); while the EPA estimates that between 13 to 50 people out of 1,000 people would die at that level.
 
Controversy even exists on what constitutes safe levels of exposure to radon. Different groups have made different value judgments as to what levels of risk are acceptable.
 
Research on the health hazards of radon continue. Some scientists say that external exposure to radon and the possibility of swallowing radon presents no danger because alpha particles have little penetrating power and may be easily stopped by a barrier as thin as skin, or by the liquids in the gastrointestinal tract. Others are privately skeptical.
 
The only thing that has been absolutely proven is that radon is a "Group A" carcinogen, which means that there are human data proving it causes lung cancer in people. Still, less dangerous carcinogens are prohibited and strictly controlled, while radon, which is ubiquitous (very common) to some areas, is hardly regulated. The dangers of radon exposure are greater, statistically, than the dangers of typical exposures to asbestos, pesticides such as ethylene dibromide, and air pollutants such as benzene.