WHAT IS RADON?
Radon is a colorless, odorless, radioactive gas. It is created during the natural breakdown of Uranium within the soil and rock. The decay chain for Radon is demonstrated below and includes the half-life of each element and whether it is an alpha or beta particle emitter.
HOW ARE YOU EXPOSED TO RADON?
Radon is a known carcinogen, which means prolonged exposure to high levels of Radon gas can cause cancer. In fact, the Surgeon General has declared Radon to be the second leading cause of lung cancer after smoking.
Radon gas continually seeps into the air from the ground. Concentrations are low outside due to dilution of the ambient air. In poorly ventilated areas and enclosed spaces, radon concentrations can build up.
Four conditions must be present to enable radon to enter your home. Two of these are geological; there must be uranium in the soil as a source material, and there must be permeable soil which allows radon to move through it to your basement or crawlspace. The other two conditions are determined by the house and its construction. There must be pathways for radon to enter the basement, such as holes, cracks, plumbing penetrations, or sumps (found in every foundation), and there must be an air pressure difference between the basement or crawl space and the surrounding soil. If the air pressure is lower indoors than in the soil, air and gases in the soil will enter. All four conditions must be present to have radon. If you reduce any one, less radon will enter your home. The last two conditions, determined by the house and its construction, are the key ones for mitigation
As a means of prevention, EPA and the Office of the Surgeon General recommend that all homes below the third floor be tested for Radon. Because Radon is invisible and odorless, a simple test is the only way to determine if a home has high radon levels. EPA recommends mitigating homes with high Radon levels and there are straightforward reduction techniques that will work in virtually any home.
EXPOSURE TO RADON CAUSES LUNG CANCER IN NON-SMOKERS AND SMOKERS ALIKE
Lung cancer kills thousands of Americans every year. Smoking, radon, and secondhand smoke are the leading causes of lung cancer. Although lung cancer can be treated, the survival rate is one of the lowest for those with cancer. From the time of diagnosis, between 11 and 15 percent of those afflicted will live beyond five years, depending upon demographic factors. In many cases lung cancer can be prevented.
Smoking is the leading cause of lung cancer. Smoking causes an estimated 160,000* cancer deaths in the U.S. every year (American Cancer Society, 2004). And the rate among women is rising. On January 11, 1964, Dr. Luther L. Terry, then U.S. Surgeon General, issued the first warning on the link between smoking and lung cancer. Lung cancer now surpasses breast cancer as the number one cause of death among women. A smoker who is also exposed to radon has a much higher risk of lung cancer.
Radon is the number one cause of lung cancer among non-smokers, according to EPA estimates. Overall, radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer. Radon is responsible for about 21,000 lung cancer deaths every year. About 2,900 of these deaths occur among people who have never smoked. On January 13, 2005, Dr. Richard H. Carmona, the U.S. Surgeon General, issued a national health advisory on radon.