CHARLESTON, W.Va. – A recent report from the American Lung Association (ALA) has found that about 29% of homes in West Virginia contain a high level of radon gas, which is a dangerous carcinogen.

According to a release by the ALA, “radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer.” It is a naturally occurring radioactive gas emitted from the ground by decaying deposits of uranium.

Graphic of State of Lung Cancer report’s findings on West Virginia in 2022 (ALA Graphic)

The ALA report, “State of Lung Cancer,” found that in West Virginia, “about 29% of radon test results equal or exceed the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) action level of 4 pCi/L (picoCuries per liter).”

The report also ranked West Virginia among the worst states for new cases of lung cancer and 5-year survival rate, though the situation has been slowly improving over the past 5 years. However, part of that likely due to West Virginia’s smoking rate, which is the worst in the nation, according to the report.

“Radon is responsible for an estimated 21,000 lung cancer deaths every year and is the leading cause of lung cancer in people who have never smoked. Since radon is odorless, tasteless and colorless, the only way to detect radon in your home is to test the air. This is why it is critical for everyone to test their home,” said Kevin Stewart, director at Environmental Health for the Lung Association. “Radon Action Month (January) is the perfect time to learn more about this dangerous gas and take action to protect yourself and your loved ones.”

There are inexpensive do-it-yourself radon test kits available for public use.

If radon is detected at levels greater than 2 pCi/L, the EPA and the ALA recommend mitigation, which involves special vent pipes and fans as well as properly sealing cracks and other openings. You should contact a certified radon mitigation professional if you need to install a radon mitigation system.

For more information about radon testing and mitigation, you can go to www.Lung.org/Radon.

It is also important to receive regular lung cancer screenings to catch the earliest signs of cancer, which can drastically increase a person’s chances of survival with appropriate treatment.