It is a proven fact that long term radon exposure in homes causes lung cancer in humans. Dogs and cats often spend more time inside the home than their human owners, causing pets to experience more exposure to radon.
What Is Radon?
Radon is an odorless, colorless gas that is released from the decay of uranium in soil and rocks. It seeps into homes through cracks in the foundation and other openings such as sump pumps. Radon is the #1 cause of lung cancer in people who have never smoked and the #2 cause of lung cancer nationwide.
How is Radon Harmful to Pets?
Radon gas becomes trapped inside the home where harmful radioactive atoms can get caught in the lungs when people (and pets) breathe. With pets spending up to 90% or more of their time indoors they are continuously inhaling the gas. Pets also spend more time closer to the floor and sniffing the floor making them the first to inhale radon gas. They often spend time in basements which are areas of the home with the highest radon levels.
Finding Out Why Radon is Harmful to Pets
Humans are 7 times more likely to develop lung cancer than dogs or cats. Because lung cancer is more rare in dogs and cats than humans, it is usually diagnosed at a later, more progressed state.
Research published in the Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine, “Ecological level analysis of primary lung tumors in dogs and cats and environmental radon activity,” studied the rate of PPN (primary pulmonary neoplasia) in 690 dogs and 205 cats that resided in counties with high radon exposure risk. The study compared the incidences of PPN in relationship to radon zones established by the EPA that are categorized as having low, moderate, or high risk of radon exposure. The study found that dogs and cats residing in homes with high environmental radon levels had higher incidences of PPN. It was also suggested that pets can offer a better model than humans for studying the relationship between radon exposure and lung cancer. Pets don’t experience the same lung cancer-causing environmental factors as humans. For example, pets aren’t exposed to carcinogens by going to a polluted workplace and they do not smoke. Additionally, they spend most of their lives in a single household and reside mostly inside.
Community Awareness for Pets Exposed to Radon
Radon is harmful to both pets and pet owners. In Canada, the Bark Side of Radon is a national radon awareness campaign driven by a focus on pet health. The campaign began with five students at Simon Fraser University and their Health Communications class project. Radon Environmental Management Corp. partnered with the students to spread awareness. With a focus on pet wellness, the group has been able to raise awareness about radon testing and mitigation in homes by "capitalizing on the ‘cuteness’ appeal of pets to motivate homeowners to start testing their homes.”
Cancer Prevention in Cats and Dogs
There are several contributors to cancer in pets such as genetic factors and breeds prone to cancer. Help prevent cancer in your pets by:
- Scheduling regular check-ups with their vet
- Quitting smoking so that your pets are not exposed to second-hand smoke
- Minimizing exposure to pesticides and outdoor lawn chemicals
- Providing safe indoor air quality to protect your pet from asbestos, carbon monoxide, smoke fumes, etc.
- Watching for early warning signs such as weight loss, lethargy, coughing, and difficulty breathing
- Testing your home for radon at least every two years and taking radon reduction/mitigation measures if levels are high
How Testing Avoids Radon Harm to Pets
Radonova has a portfolio of do-it-yourself home radon tests that are easy to use and affordable. Select the test based on the testing duration that best fits your time frame. The longer you test, the more accurate your results will be.
- QuickScreen is a 2-to-4-day charcoal radon screener which is ideal for obtaining a quick snapshot of radon levels.
- The 10 to 90 day Rapidos alpha track detector provides detailed and accurate results in the short term.
- Radtrak³ is the most popular alpha track radon detector in the world. It is deployed for up to 365 days and is the most accurate option.
Place a detector on your first floor, basement, and other first floor rooms where you spend more than 4 hours per day. Be sure to put tests where your pets can’t play with or move them. After the testing period, mail the detector(s) in the mailer to our lab for measurement. Your results will be emailed to you. This provides peace of mind so you will know if the radon levels in your home are at the actionable level where mitigation is needed.
Radonova is the radon laboratory of choice for numerous government radon surveys, as well as other public and private sector large-scale measurement contracts around the world. A truly global laboratory, Radonova is active in over 50 countries and has performed millions of measurements.