elevated levels of radon affect your health?
Why do houses
have high radon problems?
The flow of radon from the ground into a building differs from site to
site, thus from building to building, but that is not the only reason.
A normal modern house will trap Radon because we want modern houses to
minimize their leakiness of inside warm air to the outside cold
environment, or in the summer the opposite. This thermal separation and
insulation process has made our houses to trap gasses longer inside the
house resulting in higher concentration of any poisonous gas released
in our homes, including Radon.
How does radon
affect our health?
Once Radon has escaped the rocks or soil under the building and entered
your home, it continuous to decay through a radioactive sequence of
metallic elements: Polonium-218, Lead-214, Bismuth-214 and Polonium-214
and Lead-210 in the next 2 hours or so after it has decayed to Radon.
These so called Radon Decay Products (RDP's) are swept up by tiny solid
particles in the air, inhaled via normal breathing and tend to stick in
a person's lungs where the decay continuous to cause emissions of high
energy alpha particles from the Polonium elements in the sequence.
These alpha particles can cause lung tissue damage. Therefore high
levels of RDP's are a health hazard in your home and direct
measurements of the RDP concentration can be made via special
instruments. Such instruments are also named "Working Level Meters"
because they use a unit that is called the "Working Level" in order to
indicate the level of health risk a person is exposed to which used to
be in mines in a "working" environment (regulated by OSHA) . (For an
example of an instrument see our description of possible tests
The Radon concentration,
which is measurable via other instruments based on physical (not
chemical- because radon is inert) methods, is chosen as a good tell
tale signal of the RDP-concentrations in a home (For an example see our
description of possible tests elsewhere). Therefore supported by
scientific studies, the EPA has set a threshold for the Radon
concentration above which an individual has an increased risk for lung
cancer over a lifetime based on the total acquired radiative dose a
person accumulates from the decaying RDP's over this time. This EPA
threshold concentration for Radon is 4.0 pCi/L.
Thus because Radon is
radioactive, a high concentration of Radon gas in your home results in
an increased risk for developing lung cancer over a lifetime by the
decay elements (RDP's) of Radon.