Although radon does not cause immediate symptoms, the most common side effect of long-term radon exposure is increased risk of lung cancer, according to the American Cancer Society. The side effects of long-term exposure to high levels of radon include increased risk of developing pulmonary fibrosis, emphysema and chronic bronchitis.
Radon increases the risk of lung cancer in people, regardless of whether or not they smoke cigarettes, asserts WebMD. People who smoke cigarettes have an even greater chance of developing lung cancer when they are exposed to radon for a long time. In the United States, radon is the second-leading cause of lung cancer, causing approximately 21,000 deaths every year. Chronic bronchitis and emphysema are most often found in people who live in places where radon is abundant, states the American Cancer Society.
People who are exposed to radon as a result of their occupation can receive compensation from the U.S. government if they develop lung cancer and certain other diseases, claims the American Cancer Society. Although the typical radon exposure in the home is generally not enough to cause health problems, people who live in areas with high amounts of natural radon should get their homes tested periodically. Radon can be funneled out of the home by using special ventilation techniques.