Radon is a radioactive gas mostly formed under the Earth’s crust. Hence, it surrounds us all as part of the air we breathe. Radon gas is invisible, colorless, and odorless. The soil beneath our homes contains traces of uranium. Over time, the uranium breaks down to form other elements. This is known as radioactive decay. So, when you ask, “what is radon?” It is one of the links in this radioactive decay chain of uranium.
When the radon gas decays, it emits radioactive radiations in the form of alpha particles. Alpha particles are a radioactive particle that consists of two protons and two neutrons.
Any radon level poses some health risk. While it is not possible to reduce radon to zero, the best approach is to lower the radon level as much as possible. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has set the action level at 4 pCi/L (picocuries of radon per liter of air). At this level or higher, it is highly recommended to install a radon mitigation system to reduce the radon level.
Radon is the number one cause of lung cancer for non-smokers and the second leading cause of lung cancer in smokers. Your risk for lung cancer increases with higher levels of radon and longer periods of exposure. It is estimated that 21,000 people die each year in the United States from lung cancer due to radon exposure. For smokers, the risk of getting lung cancer from radon exposure is higher than for non-smokers. Reducing smoking and radon exposure greatly reduces the risk of lung cancer.
A radon test is the only way to know how much radon is in your home. Radon can be reduced with a mitigation system. See our "Hire a Professional" page to find licensed radon professionals in your area.
Why is Radon Significant?
Although radon gas is available in the air in trace amounts, it is the number one cause of lung cancer among non-smokers. Generally, outdoor radon disperses rapidly and does not cause any health issues. However, exposure to radon is higher indoors, such as at home, schools, workplaces, shopping malls, and so forth. The gas gets trapped inside the buildings after it enters through holes and other gaps in the foundation.
Inhaling radon for a day or two will not harm you as much as it will in due course of time. Your lungs are at constant risk of suffering from lung cancer. If we consider it as a separate disease, lung cancer among non-smokers ranks seven in the global cancer mortality rate. Approximately, more than 21,000 people die of radon-related cancer each year in the United States. Therefore, radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States of America.
Radon is present everywhere in the US. Although the level of gas differs from state to state, there is no denying that it is present in each of the states in the USA. Northern states, such as Ohio, tend to have elevated levels of radon compared to other regions of the country. Homes in central Ohio have tested 50x above the action level. It is recommeded by the EPA to have your home tested every 2 years for radon.
Radon in Constructions
With modern construction techniques, the buildings are often well insulated and windows are kept closed. This gives way to the radon gas to build-up inside the building to such a level that our DNA repair system fails to keep our cells healthy.
Radon in Basements
Radon levels tend to be highest on the lowest level of buildings because their foundation is immersed in soil and is where radon primarily enters the space.
Foundation and Weather Effects
The radon gases enter a building through the Earth’s crust. Hence, they can enter a workplace through cracks, wires, pipes, or anything that is under the ground. Changes in weather can increase or decrease the amount of gas coming through the foundation.