Friday, April 14, 2017

Radon: The most dangerous threat in your home

Your first instinct is to keep your family safe, so maybe you bought an alarm system, lock up all medications and harmful cleaning supplies, and furnish the house with smoke detectors. But no matter what precautions you’ve taken, you’re probably missing the biggest threat in your home – one you can’t see, hear, smell or experience in any other way until it’s too late, causing cancer or even death at a high rate when exposed.

We’re talking about Radon, and even though it’s not talked about enough in the public arena, the health risk to your family is very real and quite scary.

Here are 20 facts about Radon:

1. Radon is a tasteless, odorless gas that’s radioactive. When the gas is breathed and absorbed into our bodies, Radon breaks down into lead and then penetrates into our lungs, causing cancer and other health problems over time.

2. Radon is an element on the periodic table with the name 86Rn. The half-life of Radon is 222Rn222.01756, or t1/2 = 3.82 days.

3. Radon is found in every single state in the U.S., and it's estimated that 1 in every 15 homes have dangerous levels of gasses, including Radon.

4. There are NO visible signs of Radon, as the gas is odorless, tasteless, and colorless.

5. It's not a man-made chemical or substance but comes from the natural (radioactive) breakdown of the traces of Uranium in soil, rocks, and water.

6. Radon concentration is highest near granite deposits, or geological conditions called “Karst Topography,” a formation that occurs when layers of soluble bedrock dissolve.

7. Radon can enter your home through any gaps, cracks, water entrances like pipes, and of course, through open windows or doors.

8. How dangerous is radon? The Environmental Protection Agency reports that radon poses 1,000 times the risk of death as any other carcinogen.

9. So it’s no wonder that exposure to the gas is responsible for 21,000 lung cancer deaths per year, or 58 deaths per day!

10. That’s more than fatalities caused by drunk driving, or falls in the home, drowning, and home fires combined!

11. Radon is attributable for 14% of the 300,000 annual lung cancer deaths in the United States every year, or approximately 1 in ever 7.

12. In fact, the Surgeon General warns that Radon poisoning is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the U.S. today, behind only smoking.

13. Children are particularly susceptible to Radon gas because of their small, not-fully-grown lungs. In fact, if children are exposed to cigarette smoke and radon, their risk of getting lunch cancer jumps 20 times.

14. If your home tests above 4.0 pCi/l (the standard measurement for Radon gas is picocuries/liter), then you and your family are exposed to 35 times as much radiation as the Nuclear Regulatory Commission considers safe on a radioactive waste site.

15. Remember that it’s not just houses that can be exposed to Radon, but any apartment building, condo, or other building, such as schools, offices, and public buildings, etc.

16. For instance, if your child’s school is exposed to elevated Radon, the typical student will receive nearly 10 times as much radiation each year as the Nuclear Regulatory Commission receives at the border of a nuclear power plant.

17. Nearly 1 in every 15 households in the U.S. have elevated Radon levels, and the EPA estimates that about 14% of all homes have dangerous radon levels about 4.0 pCi/l!

18. There are no “safe” levels of exposure to Radon gas.

19. While Radon levels of 4.0 pCi/l sound intimidating, they don’t really mean anything to the average person, so how else can we put that in context? Living in a home with even low levels of Radon is equivalent to absorbing the radiation from 200 chest X-rays every year!

20. The scariest part is that most people with Radon poisoning don't exhibit bold, noticeable symptoms. But here are some warning signs of Radon sickness:

  • Chronic bronchitis and pneumonia 
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Decrease in muscle mass
  • Paraneoplastic symptoms (weight loss, anemia, and unexplained rashes)
  • Chest Pain
  • Hoarse voice

For more information and resources, go to:

1-800-SOS-RADON (1-800-767-7236)*
National Radon Hotline Purchase radon test kits by phone.

1-800-55RADON (1-800-557-2366)*
National Radon Helpline Get live help for your radon questions.

National Radon Fix-It Line For general information on fixing or reducing the radon level in your home.


Look for a follow-up blog with tips and resources on Radon detection and mitigation in your home!

1 comment:

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