How High Radon Levels Affect Your Health
Effects of High Radon Levels
You may have heard of radon, but not really understand what it is or how it can impact your family. Radon is simply a radioactive noble gas. It is quite dense and has no taste and no odor. When elements like uranium and thorium decays, they create radon gas as a byproduct. When the radon gas itself begins to decay, radioactive elements called radon daughters start to emerge. These daughters are not gaseous, but tiny solid particles. They can cling to dust in the air and travel into your lungs when you breathe. Afterwards, they can stick to the walls of your airways, causing a variety of health problems.
Buildings can fill with radon gas that is emitted naturally from the soil and rock beneath the foundation. Poorly ventilated rooms, of course, fill with radon gas the most quickly, but any building can be vulnerable to radon contamination. Basements are often the most common location for elevated radon levels. Breathing elevated radon levels has been directly linked to lung cancer. With the exception of smoking cigarettes, radon is the most common cause of lung cancer, resulting in over 20,000 deaths a year in North America. Many of the people who die this way have never smoked a cigarette in their lives, making radon the top cause of lung cancer in non-smokers.
Detecting High Radon Levels in Your Home
Radon levels cannot be detected by your senses since the gas is odorless and colorless. However, there are other ways to measure radon levels. For example, you can purchase personal use home radon test kits. Many of these kits use charcoal or foam to collect radioactive particles that may be floating in the air. Other test options are more long term, and may take up to three months to complete. The best option is to have experts from SWAT Environmental professionally test your home. The results of a professional test are both much faster and much more accurate than those from a typical home test.
New homes can be designed to prevent elevated radon levels in the first place. However, if your home did not have this type of system installed during its construction, you should have your home’s radon levels tested regularly. If these levels ever become dangerously elevated, you can have SWAT Environmental’s specialists analyze your home to determine how best to expel the radon gas from your house, as well as how to prevent it from returning. This process is known as radon mitigation. Different homes can require significantly different radon mitigation techniques and systems to most effectively handle their radon levels.
Elevated radon levels are a threat that you should take very seriously. That being said, testing your home for radon is affordable and easy. If your home does contain higher radon levels than what is considered safe for human exposure, eliminating it could potentially save your life.