What is Radon? Is it a bird? A plane? No, it’s a radioactive gas!
Yes, you read that right, radioactive gas, our very own krypton, found naturally in the environment due to the decay of uranium in rock, water or soil. It’s an invisible, odorless gas, which surrounds every one of us and is present in the very air we breathe. Ominous much?
However, you shouldn’t be very worried. Why? Well, think back a couple of decades, when media hype about this virtually unknown substance created mass panic and skepticism across the nation, with some people rushing to the nearest ER for fear of lung cancer or some equally horrible disease, while others maintained that it is a great government conspiracy to buy our land on the cheap and build alien technology.
However, none of it is true. Sorry conspiracy theorists, there is nothing here for you. Better research since then, has made two things very clear – that elevated levels of radon can, overtime, cause lung cancer, but there are many effective ways to reduce your exposure to this potentially poisonous gas.
What is Radon exactly?
As mentioned above, radon is a radioactive, odorless and invisible gas found in the environment. It emits ionizing radiation and can move freely through soil, thus allowing it to escape from the bedrock into the environment or seep into buildings. Usually radon is diluted to very low concentrations, so much so that it does not pose a serious threat to our health.
Is Radon in our homes?
Yes, it is. As explained, radon escapes bedrock and permeates the very air we breathe. In houses/buildings built over soil or bedrock containing uranium, there are higher chances of radon escaping through gaps around cables or pipes, or through cracks in the floors or walls. However, it is not truly dangerous until it is confined overtime in poorly ventilated spaces, such as crawlspaces and basements. Spaces, such as these, are closest to the source and are usually enclosed, thereby allowing radon to accumulate to high levels. Exposure to high levels of radon over a long period of time can cause diseases, such as lung cancer.
Can we reduce the levels of Radon or limit our exposure?
While we are probably exposed to radon day in and day out, the amount of this radioactive gas around us does not pose a serious health risk, until it has been left to accumulate over a long period of time. There are, however, many effective ways to reduce the level of radon in homes and buildings, or to ensure that you are not exposed to higher concentrations of this gas. For example, real estate regulations require radon testing and/or mitigation of radon prior to new construction.