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Radon Gas

What Is Radon Gas?

Radon is a naturally occurring radioactive gas. It is produced in the ground through the normal decay of uranium and radium. High radon levels have been found in every state. Dig up the top 6 feet of an acre of land and you will find, on average, about 50 pounds of uranium. Uranium decays to radium, which then decays to radon. Radon levels vary from home to home, you can not gauge the radon level in your home by the results in a neighbor's home. Although some scientists dispute the precise number of deaths due to radon, all major health organizations, including the Centers for Disease Control, the American Lung Association and the American Medical Associatoion agree with estimates that radon causes thousands of preventable lung cancer deaths every year. Millions of homes have elevated radon levels. Radon can be a problem in all types of homes, old homes, new homes, drafty homes or homes without basements.

Surgeon General Health Advisory: "Indoor radon gas is a national health problem. Radon causes thousands of deaths each year. Homes should be tested for radon. When elevated levels are confirmed, the problem should be corrected."

What Makes Radon Dangerous?

Radon itself is an inert gas & poses no danger, but radon decays to polonium & lead particles. These and later progeny are chemically very active as well as radioactive. When you breathe, these radioactive progeny lodge in your lungs, bronchi, and trachea. The radiation disrupts and mutates cells and can, eventually, result in lung cancer. Radon is estimated to be the second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States. Its health risk increases with the length of exposure and concentration level of the radon. It is estimated that 15,800 people die each year as a direct result of Radon exposure, that is 43 people every single day.

How Does Radon Get Into Homes?

Radon moves through small spaces in the soil and rock on which a house is built and can seep into a home through dirt floors, floor drains, sump pits, cracks in the foundation and basement floor & up through hollow core block foundation walls. Differences in air pressure between the basement and the soil beneath the home also play a part in the migration of radon gas.

What Level Of Radon Is Considered Hazardous?

The EPA has set the level of concern at 4 picoCuries of radon per liter of air (4 pCi/L). This is a concentration of 70,000 atoms of radon in each liter of air (about 2 million radon atoms in every cubic foot of air). This is a very low concentration, roughly one radon atom in a billion-billion air atoms, however, the radon atoms are radioactive and that makes the difference. We breathe about 20 litters of air into out lungs each minute. At 4 pCi/L we accumulate about 10,000 radioactive atoms in our lungs, trachea, and bronchi every minute.

What Is The Lung Cancer Risk At Various Exposure Concentrations?

If 1,000 people who never smoked were exposed to 4 pCi/L over a lifetime, about 2 people could get lung cancer.

If 1,000 people who smoked were exposed to 4 pCi/L over a lifetime, about 29 could get lung cancer.

If 1,000 people who never smoked were exposed to 20 pCi/L over a lifetime, about 8 people could get lung cancer.

If 1,000 people who smoked were exposed to 20 pCi/L over a lifetime, about 135 could get lung cancer.

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