What Is Radon?

A Radon mitigation service is the best way to protect your home. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Surgeon General’s Office have urged widespread testing for radon. Radon is the nation’s second leading cause of lung cancer after smoking. Up to 36,000 lung cancer deaths are attributed to radon each year.

Homes with radon levels at or above 4 pCi/l are considered a risk. A typical family living in such a home could be exposed to 35 TIMES AS MUCH radiation as that found at the perimeter of a radioactive waste site. Most scientists agree that the lifetime risk of death from exposure to radon at 4 pCi/l is approximately 1 in 100. In other words, this radon level carries approximately 1,000 times the risk of death as any other carcinogen! This is why using a radon mitigation service is the best way to protect your home.

Radon’s primary hazard comes from the atmospheric release of radon-222. This is released by the decay of uranium-238 present in soil and rock. It is a process that yields radioactive decay products such as polonium, lead, and bismuth. These attach to airborne materials, such as dust, which facilitate inhalation. These alpha particles may lodge in the delicate cells of the mucus membranes lining the lung, potentially causing lung cancer. Radon mitigation can help to reduce the chances of this happening.

Radon is a colorless, chemically unreactive, inert gas. It is the densest gas known. The gas and its highly radioactive metallic daughter products emit alpha and beta particles and gamma rays. The alpha radiation emitted by radon is the exact same alpha radiation that is emitted by any other alpha generating radiation source, like plutonium.

Radon reaches dangerous levels in buildings due to a “stack effect” vacuum. This is caused by warmer indoor temperatures drawing radon in through a building’s foundation. Radon is a single atom gas and moves easily through ground soil, building foundations and common building materials. Radon’s extended half-life provides ample time for the gas to migrate into a building’s indoor air.  This is where it decays into the harmful radioactive heavy metals discussed earlier. This gas and the resulting metallic particles move quickly through a building, contaminating the air. Almost nothing will stop this gas from moving from the basement to other parts of a house if it makes its way into the basement in the first place.

For more information, view our page on radon migitation services or peruse our collection of frequently asked questions.