Radon

 

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What is radon and where does it come from?
The Risk of Living with Radon
Radon Risk If You Smoke
Radon Risk If You've Never Smoked

What is radon and where does it come from?

Radon is a cancer causing radioactive gas. You cannot see radon and you cannot smell it or taste it, but it may be a problem in your home. This is because 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.

You should test for radon. Testing is the only way to find out about your home's radon level. The EPA and the Surgeon General recommend testing of all homes for radon. If you find that you have high radon levels, there are ways to fix a radon problem. Even very high levels can be reduced to acceptable levels.

If you are buying a home, the EPA recommends that you obtain the radon level in the home you are considering buying. AllCheck Inspections will place a Sun Nuclear continuous radon monitor in the lowest level of the home for 48 hours. If elevated levels are found, it is recommended that these levels be reduced. In most cases, a contractor can install mitigation system that adheres to the EPA's approved methods for reduction of radon in a residential structure at reasonable cost.

Radon is constantly being generated by the radium in rocks, soil, water, and materials derived from rocks and soils, such as certain building materials. Radium is a decay product of uranium which is naturally occurring in the soils and rocks of the earth's crust. Uranium is present at about 0.5 to 5 parts per million (PPM) in common rocks and soils. Radon gas can be found just about anywhere. It can get into any type of building -- homes, offices, and schools -- and build up to high levels. The concentration of radon gas in the soil will be related to the amount of uranium present. However, this is not a good indicator of the level of radon in an individual home. The radon concentration in a home is dependant on the type of soil the home is built on. Cracks, openings, and various penetrations in the building foundation will provide the pathway for the radon in the soil to enter the home. The ventilation rate and air flow patterns within a house are important factors that will affect how much radon will be pulled into different areas within the house.

Radon can also be dissolved in ground water and can be introduced into the indoor air through the aeration of well water during its use in washing machines, showers, etc. This component is usually relatively small compared to the amount of radon entering the home from the soil.

The Risk of Living with Radon

Typically the air pressure inside your home is lower than the pressure in the soil around your home's foundation. Due to this difference, your house acts like a vacuum, drawing radon gas in through foundation cracks and other openings of your home.

Radon gas decays into radioactive particles that can get trapped in your lungs when you breathe. As they break down further, these particles release small bursts of energy. This can damage lung tissue and lead to lung cancer over the course of your lifetime. Not everyone exposed to elevated levels of radon will develop lung cancer and the amount of time between exposure and the onset of the disease may be many years.

Like other environmental pollutants, there is some uncertainty about the magnitude of radon health risks. However, we know more about radon risks than those from most other cancer-causing substances. This is because estimates of radon risks are based on studies of cancer in humans (underground miners).

Smoking combined with radon is an especially serious health risk. Stop smoking and lower your radon level to reduce your lung cancer risk.

Children have been reported to have greater risk than adults of certain types of cancer from radiation, but there are currently no conclusive data on whether children are at greater risk than adults from radon.

Your chances of getting lung cancer from radon depend mostly on:

  • How much radon is in your home.
  • The amount of time you spend in your home.

  • Whether you are a smoker or have ever smoked.

Radon Risk If You Smoke

Radon Risk If You've Never Smoked

 

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