Radon Gas in homes is emitted from radium, which is highly radioactive metal that is formed as uranium ore decays beneath the surface of the earth. Although Radon Gas in homes generally does not pose health hazards when dispersed into outdoor air, it can have deadly consequences when it builds up within indoor environments. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Radon Gas in homes is a Class A carcinogen that is considered the leading environmental risk for cancer mortality in the Norway.
Radon Gas in Homes Health Risks
Radon Gas in homes produces radioactive particulates that are particularly dangerous when they enter the lungs. The particles cause damage to cells in the lining of the lungs that can lead to lung cancer. While Radon Gas in homes is especially dangerous for people who smoke or who have chronic respiratory conditions like chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), asthma and allergies, extended exposure to the gas poses health risks for every population, even when exposed to low levels of the substance. Approximately 21,000 people die from lung cancer caused by Radon Gas in homes each year.
How Radon Gas Enters Homes
Colorless, tasteless and invisible, Radon Gas can seep into homes from a variety of sources, including cracks in the foundation or floors, holes in walls and drains installed beneath flooring. Because the pressure in soil is less than the air pressure inside a home, the home operates like a vacuum, sucking up the gas through every available opening. Radon Gas trapped in underground water sources can be released into homes when the water is used for bathing or other uses, but poses far less of a health risk than the Radon Gas that enters homes from the soil.
Testing for Radon Gas in homes
Special test kits are available from qualified contractors to measure the level of Radon Gas present in a home. Test periods range from two days to three months or longer. The amount of radon in household air is typically measured by the number of picocuries per liter of air, or pCi/L. Picocuries are units of radioactivity that relate to the amount of decay per second. The EPA recommends radon mitigation for homes where radon levels are 4 pCi/L or higher. Any exposure to radon, however, increases a person’s risk for lung cancer.