Can you name the second leading cause of lung cancer?

November is Lung Cancer Awareness Month. The following blog post was written by Heather Myers, a Community Health Coordinator with Summit Health.

Ask someone to name the number one leading cause of lung cancer, and many may be able to correctly identify smoking and second hand-smoke, but what about the not so well-known second leading cause?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), reports that the second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States is radon, a naturally occurring gas that comes from rocks and dirt. Radon, emitted from the ground, gets trapped in homes and buildings, and long-term exposure may increase risk for lung cancer.

Current smokers who live in homes with high radon levels have an even higher risk of lung cancer. The risk for current smokers who live in a home with high radon levels is ten times higher than non-smokers who live in homes with high radon levels, per the CDC.

The Pennsylvania Department of Health indicates that the state of Pennsylvania has one of the most serious radon problems with many counties throughout the state being considered high “Zone 1” counties, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). “Zone 1” counties are predicated, by the EPA, to have average indoor radon screening levels greater than 4 pCi/L. The EPA shows that Franklin County is one of the many “Zone 1” counties in the state.

Homeowners interested in testing their home for radon, may register to receive a free radon kit from Summit Health from November 1, 2017 to November 17, 2017, by signing up online at Those who receive a kit will be asked to complete a post-evaluation survey.

Here are a few tips about how to properly store and use your radon kit:

  • Store it is a cool location out of direct sunlight
  • Perform the test in the lowest lived-in level of the home
  • Follow test kit instructions thoroughly and mail them for analysis immediately after the test is complete- plan accordingly!
  • Test results will be mailed back promptly

All Pennsylvanians who have tested their home for radon and find a high screening level are entitled to receive another free short-term confirmation test kit from the Pennsylvania Bureau of Radiation Protection. This kit is mailed to qualified Pennsylvania residents by express mail. For this free service, please call 1-800-237-2366 or 717-783-3594. Find more information including radon remediation vendors by visiting the Pennsylvania Department of Health website.

Those concerned about being exposed to high radon levels are encouraged to talk with their primary care physician and live a smoke-free life. The combined effects of smoking and being exposed to high levels of radon are much higher than either risk factor alone. 

Utilize these tips to breathe better today!