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Radon

radon

Radon is an odorless, colorless, radioactive gas found in the earth’s crust throughout the world. It is formed from the breakdown of radioactive elements, such as uranium. Radon gas can move upward into the air and into underground and surface water. It dissipates in outside air where it causes no problems, but can be quite problematic if it seeps up into the house.

Any home can have an elevated radon level. New homes, old homes, well sealed or drafty, with or without basements or crawl spaces. People who spend  much of their time in basement rooms at home or at work have a greater risk for being exposed. Nearly one in fifteen homes has an elevated radon level. Radon levels cannot be predicted. They must be measured. The average radon level is 1.3 picocuries which is safe. A level above 4 picocuries is above the acceptable limit and needs to be dealt with.

Radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the U.S. , causing an estimated 21,000 lung cancer deaths per year. Only smoking causes a greater percentage of lung cancer. Stop smoking and reduce your radon exposure to significantly lower your odds for lung cancer.

Radon gas decays into radioactive particles which can get trapped in your lungs when breathing. These particles release small bursts of energy causing the damage to the lung tissue leading to cancer over a period of time. Not everyone exposed to such levels of radon will  develop cancer, but many will without any idea it’s happening.

As far as is known, radon exposure by itself, causes no obvious short term symptoms unless it turns into symptoms of cancer with shortness of breath, pain or tightness in the chest, a worsening cough, trouble breathing or swallowing.

You can check radon levels in your home. Do it yourself measuring kits can be bought, relatively inexpensively, at most hardware stores or online. The kits are placed in the home for several days then mailed to a lab for analysis.

A variety of methods can be used to decrease radon levels in the house if necessary. I recommend that a qualified contractor be contacted to get the job  done correctly.

In summary, test your home for radon levels. If necessary, work with a professional  contractor to decrease the radon exposure, quit smoking, and see your doctor if you have any of the previously mentioned signs of lung cancer.

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