Radon is a naturally occurring gas that is found all over the world and inside virtually every structure. Radon is formed by the breakdown of uranium, a radioactive element found in rock, soil, and water.
Radon is dangerous. Radon is estimated to cause thousands of deaths each year in the United States. The Surgeon General has cited radon as the second most common cause of lung cancer behind only smoking; the number one cause of lung cancer.
History of Radon
Radon, identified as a unique element in 1900, was the fifth radioactive element discovered. Physicians and scientists were aware of the existence of something in the mines that was making miners sick as far back as 1530. Miners contracted an illness called the “wasting away disease” or “mountain disease.” In the 1800’s, the then unnamed element radon, was determined to be the cause of the diseases effecting miners. These miner’s diseases were later classified lung cancer. Major studies of the effects of radon done during the cold war firmly established radon as dangerous to human health.
Radon seeps into all structures and is has no odor or color and thus not detectable unless actually looked for by a professional who has the correct tools for discovering it.
Radon has caused much controversy over the years and became a cause celebre in the 1970s when it was first determined to harmful to humans. Homeowners initially became aware of radon through the news media and home buyers started asking for radon inspections and mortgage insurance companies demanded it. Home sellers were confused and angry because they saw this new inspection as another way to delay or even kill the sale of their home. Finally the real estate industry caught on and began telling sellers up front to expect to provide the results of a radon inspection. Today, a radon inspection is part of the documentation required in almost every real estate transaction.
The Risks to Your Body of Living with Radon
Radon gas decays into radioactive particles and if you are exposed to and inhale these tiny particles they get trapped inside your lungs. As they break down, the particles release small bursts of energy. These tiny bursts of energy will damage your lungs and can sometimes result in lung cancer.
Doctors and scientists have extensively researched radon and know more about the cancer causing effects of radon than any other cancer causing substance, gas or element. The evidence is conclusive; there is no reason to doubt the dangerous effects of radon and its potentially deadly effect on humans.
The determination that radon is dangerous is not a reason to live in fear of the gas, the gas is everywhere. You do need to learn what precautions to take to protect yourself and your family. In the United States radon is easily detectable and easily mitigated. In every city, there are professionals who can test for the presence of radon and can provide the protection you may need.
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