What is Radon?
Radon Definition: Radon is a colorless, odorless radioactive gas that occurs naturally in the environment. Produced by the decay of uranium in soil and rock, radon is released into air and water. The average outdoor radon level is about 0.4 pCi/L.
Understanding the Effect of High Radon Levels
Radon levels above 4pCi/L are considered unsafe and action must be taken immediately. WHO even recommends homeowners and property owners take action when radon levels hit 2.7pCi/L.
When concentrated levels of radon are in the home or building, those exposed are at a higher risk of being diagnosed with lung cancer. In fact, radon is the number one cause of lung cancer in nonsmokers and is the second leading cause of lung cancer overall.
Radon in Water
While the majority of radon deaths occur from exposure to radon in the air, roughly 30 to 1,800 deaths per year are due to radon poisoning in the water. In groundwater, high levels of radon are often found flowing through granite and gravel formation. If you use a private well, you can be exposed when taking a shower, washing dishes or even doing laundry. The only way to know if your well water has elevated radon levels is to test.
Based on a National Academy of Science report on radon in drinking water, EPA estimates that radon in drinking water causes about 168 cancer deaths per year, 89 percent from lung cancer caused by breathing radon released from water, and 11 percent from stomach cancer caused by drinking radon-containing water.
Determining Who is at Risk of Lung Cancer from Radon
Some factors that influence your risk include:
- Age – Since children have different breathing patterns and lung physiology than adults, children are more vulnerable to radon exposure.
- Duration of exposure – The longer exposed to radon, the higher the likelihood of getting radon poisoning.
- Your current physical condition – Those with respiratory diseases such as asthma & emphysema will have an increased risk of lung cancer.
- Geographical location – According to the U.S. EPA, any home in any state can have high radon levels. However, in general mountainous states and states with rocky terrain have the highest radon concentrations.
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