What is radon?
Radon is a natural occurring gas that is found in most soil. It is a radioactive gas that is odorless, and colorless. It is found in soils and rocks where uranium is commonly found. When Uranium decays or breaks down radon gas is formed. It then travels from the soil to air or water.
As a gas it travels freely through the soil into air or water. Radon can be found in every country.
In the US high levels of radon have been found in every state. A map of Radon Level in the US can be found at: https://geopub.epa.gov/Radon/ Zoom in to see the levels for your state.
Radon is typically found in the lower levels of a home. Crawl spaces and basements will usually have the highest levels of radon since it enters from the soil below. The amount found will vary depending on the soil type, the type of construction, air pressure, wind and other elements that may affect pathways that Radon could follow into the home.
So people who spent time in basement offices, living rooms, or rec rooms may have more risk.
How does radon affect you?
The Radon gas breaks down into radioactive elements called radon progeny. These can attach to dust and other small particles in the air, where they can be breathed into your lungs and lodge in the linings. As these elements emit small bursts of energy and radiation that break down and can damage lung tissue and possibly cause lung cancer in the future – sometimes many years later. The exposure is a matter of the level of exposure and the time exposed.
Exposure to Radon does not cause any immediate short-term effects, such as coughing, trouble breathing or other respiratory symptoms. But its long-term effects can be serious. The U.S. Surgeon General has called radon the second leading cause of lung cancer in the country after smoking – and if you smoke, it can be especially dangerous to be exposed to radon as well.
Approximately 21,000 lung cancer deaths per year occur according to both the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the National Academy of Sciences (NAS), long-term exposure to radon is directly responsible for– many of these among people who have never smoked. But it’s also important to note that not everyone has a different ability to tolerate radon, and not all who is exposed to high levels of radon will get lung cancer during their lifetime.