What You Need to Know About Radon
© 2016 Health Realizations, Inc. Update
Radon is a cancer-causing radioactive gas. You cannot see, smell or taste radon but it may be a problem in your home. When you breathe air containing radon, you increase your risk of getting lung cancer. In fact, the Surgeon General has warned that radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States today. If you smoke and your home has high radon levels, your risk of lung cancer is especially high.
Radon: A (Slightly More) Scientific Explanation
Radon is a gaseous and highly radioactive element discovered by English physicist Ernest Rutherford in 1899. Although the discovery is also credited to German physicist Friedrich Ernst Dorn in 1900, it may be fairer to say that Rutherford discovered radon's alpha radiation and that Dorn found that radium was giving off a gas.
Radon is a colorless, chemically unreactive inert gas, and it is the densest gas known. The gas and its highly radioactive metallic daughter products emit alpha and beta particles and gamma rays. It has been used in the treatment of cancer by radiotherapy. In homes and other buildings, radon produced by the radioactive decay of uranium-238 present in soil and rock can reach levels regarded as dangerous to human health.
The Environmental Protection Agency and the Surgeons General's Office have urged widespread testing for radon. They estimated that as many as 20,000 lung cancer deaths are caused each year by radon. Next to smoking, radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer.
The EPA says that nearly 1 in 3 homes checked in seven states and on three Indian lands had screening levels over 4 pCi/L, the EPA's recommended action level for radon exposure.
Radon is a national environmental health problem. Elevated radon levels have been discovered in virtually every state.
The EPA estimates that as many as 8 million homes throughout the country have elevated levels of radon. State surveys have shown that 1 out of 5 homes has elevated radon levels.
SHOULD YOU TEST FOR RADON?
If you live in the U.S. - a very common region of the world for radon gases in the home as noted above - a definite YES! Testing is the only way to know your home's radon levels. There are no immediate symptoms that will alert you to the presence of radon. It typically takes years of exposure before any problems surface and then it is often too late.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Surgeon General, American Lung Association, American Medical Association and National Safety Council all recommend testing your home for radon.
CAN YOU FIX THE PROBLEM?
If you find that your home has high radon levels, there are ways to reduce the concentrations. Even very high levels can be reduced to acceptable levels. Most radon problems can be fixed by a do-it-yourselfer for less than $500 (we encourage you to contact your local hardware store for do-it-yourself recommendations.) Should you choose, you can also have the problem fixed by a local professional - refer to your region's phone book for service providers.
Protect Your Loved Ones:
Use the Radon Home Test Kits
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ESSENTIAL RISK FACTS FOR RADIATION
The alpha radiation emitted by radon is the exact same alpha radiation that is emitted by any other alpha generating radiation source, like plutonium.
A family whose home has radon levels of 4 pCi/l is exposed to approximately 35 times as much radiation as the NUCLEAR REGULATORY COMMISSION allows if they were standing next to the fence of a radioactive waste site (25 mrem limit, 800 mrem exposure)!!!
An elementary school student that spends 8 hours per day and 180 days per year in a classroom with 4 pCi/l of radon will receive nearly 10 times as much radiation as the NUCLEAR REGULATORY COMMISSION allows at the edge of a nuclear power plant(25 mrem limit, 200 mrem exposure)!!!
Most United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) lifetime safety standards for carcinogens are established based on a 1 in 100,000 risk of death. Most scientists agree that the risk of death for radon at 4 pCi/l is approximately 1 in 100. At the 4 pCi/l EPA action guideline level radon carries approximately 1000 times the risk of death as any other EPA carcinogen.
Radon-induced lung cancer costs the United States over $2 billion dollars per year in both direct and indirect health care costs.
WHY RADON IS SUCH A HIGH CANCER RISK
Radon's primary hazard is caused from inhalation of the gas and its highly radioactive heavy metallic decay products (Polonium, Lead, and Bismuth) which tend to collect on dust in the air. The problem arises when these elements stick to the delicate cells lining the passageways leading into the lungs.
Lung tumors caused by radon can include adenomas, adenocarcinomas, and squamous cell carcinomas; bronchiolar and alveolar metaplasia, adenomatous lesions, fibrosis, interstitial pneumonia and more have also been observed.
HOW RADON IS PRODUCED
Radon is not produced as a commercial product. Radon is a naturally occurring radioactive gas and comes from the natural breakdown (radioactive decay) of uranium. Most soils contain varying amounts of uranium. It is usually found in igneous rock and soil, but in some cases, well water may also be a source of radon.
HOW PEOPLE ARE EXPOSED TO RADON
The primary routes of potential human exposure to radon are inhalation and ingestion. Radon in the ground, groundwater, or building materials enters working and living spaces and disintegrates into its decay products.
Want to Know More?
Just ask and we will be happy to provide the information you need.
In comparison with levels in outdoor air, the concentrations of radon and its decay products to which humans are exposed in confined air spaces are elevated. Although high concentrations of radon in groundwater may contribute to human exposure through ingestion, the radiation dose to the body due to inhalation of radon released from water is usually more important.
Based on current exposure and risk estimates, radon exposure in single-family houses may be a causal factor in as many as 20,000 of the total lung cancer fatalities which occur each year. Radon decay products (polonium- 218 and polonium-214, solid form) can attach to the surface of aerosols, dusts, and smoke particles which may be inhaled, and become deeply lodged or trapped in the lungs. Once lodged, they can radiate and penetrate the cells of mucous membranes, bronchi, and other pulmonary tissues.
Some scientific studies of radon exposure indicate that children may be more sensitive to radon. This may be due to their higher respiration rate and their rapidly dividing cells, which may be more vulnerable to radiation damage.
Protect Your Loved Ones: Use a Do-It-Yourself Home Radon Test Kit