Radon is a radioactive gas that is naturally occurring. Radon has no characteristic of smell, taste, or even color. Radon is a result of natural radioactive decay of uranium, which is present in all soils and rocks. Radon may also be available in the water.
Radon easily escapes from the ground into the atmospheric air, from where it decays and gives out more radioactive particles. As human beings breathe, the particles are attached to the cells that line the airways, causing damage to DNA and may cause lung cancer.
In the open air, radon easily dilutes to very low concentrations and is typically not an issue. The average open-air radon level (1) varies in the range of 5-15 be/m3. However, in an enclosed area, radon concentrations are a bit higher, with the maximum levels available in places such as caves, mines, and water treatment amenities. In buildings such as schools, offices, and homes, concentrations of radon ranging between 10 be/m3 to above 10 000 be/m3 have already been traced.
In this article, we shall have a thorough overview of radon danger and a few more facts about radon.
What are the health dangers of radon?
Radon is the second most significant cause of lung cancer after smoking. According to estimates, radon is responsible for 3 to 14 percent of all lung cancer cases in a country, which depends on the average levels of radon and the general smoking habits in a country.
A skyrocketing rate of lung cancer was first witnessed in uranium miners exposed to very high radon concentrations. Additionally, studies conducted in China, Europe, and North America have verified that shallow radon levels, too, like those present in our homes, also expose us to health dangers and heavily contribute to the incidence of lung cancers all across the globe.
The risk of lung cancer rises by 16 percent each 100 Be/m3 increase in extended average radon concentration. The dose-response correlation is linear – for instance, the risk of lung cancer proportionally increases with rising exposure to radon.
Lung cancer, as a result of radon, is much more likely in smokers. As a matter of fact, people who smoke are approximated to be 25 times more at the risk of lung cancer as a result of radon compared to non-smokers. To this day, no alternative cancer risks have been verified.
How does radon get to homes?
Most of the exposure to radon happens at home. The concentration of radon in a home depends on the following factors:
- Uranium levels available in the underlying soils and rocks;
- The possible routes for the passage of radon from the ground into the home; and
- The exchange rate between outdoor and indoor air, which is dependent on how you have constructed your home, your ventilation habits, and how air-tight your building is.
Radon enters a home via cracks on the floor or any other gaps. Radon levels are normally higher in living spaces, basements, or cellars in contact with the soil.
Here’s how to reduce radon in your home.
- increasing under-the-floor ventilation;
- installation of a radon sump system in your basement or beneath a solid floor;
- avoid passage of radon from your house’s basement the into living rooms;
- sealing your walls and floors
- Enhancing the house’s ventilation.
The fact that radon cannot be seen, heard or smelt makes it very dangerous as it may cause gradual damage whose eventuality might be fatal. Luckily enough, radon can be tested using plastic detectors, which are the size of a biscuit. In case you detect high radon levels in your home using these detectors, be sure to take action. All the best, and good luck!
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