Second Leading Cause
of Lung Cancer
Same as Half a Pack a Day
if at 4.0 pCi/L*
Radon is a radioactive, odorless, tasteless, colorless, Class A carcinogen gas. It comes from the natural decay of radium in the soil, and can enter buildings through cracks or even penetrate concrete. When inhaled, radon particles change DNA in the lungs. Over the course of years, radon exposure can dramatically increase the chance of lung cancer.
Over a third of all buildings in Northern Illinois have radon levels over 4.0 pCi/L, the level at which the EPA warns you to take action and protect yourself from the dangers of radon. Inhaling this level of radon is roughly the same lung cancer exposure as smoking a half a pack of cigarettes a day. * Environmental Protection Agency
Worse Than Most Think
Every year over 1,000 people die in Illinois from radon-induced lung cancer. 21,000 people die every year nationwide.Nat. Cancer Institute’s 2010 Surveillance.
Illinois Emergency Management Agency – “Teacher Presentation.”
Deaths per year
More die from radon than home fires and carbon monoxide poisoning combined. It is the number one preventable home death cause.EPA’s“ACitizen’sGuidetoRadon”.
Like with other topics, there are websites and posts that indicate that the radon issue is a hoax. Most all of their logic is based upon looking at very old and select research. CLICK HERE TO SEE MORE RESEARCH
Research indicates all Chicagoland counties have high radon levels. At right are the percentage of homes that would fail a radon test.
1 in 3+
In the western suburbs, an average of more than one in every three homes is likely to have high radon. Some neighborhoods are less, while some neighborhoods have radon in each home.
IT IS RECOMMENDED THAT YOU TEST IF YOU LIVE ANYWHERE in northern Illinois. The Illinois Emergency Management Agency tracks radon levels in the state. If you would like to look up your area clixk map at right.
While a lot of radon enters a building through cracks in the foundation and the sump pump pit, if these are sealed, it can penetrate through the concrete and through most floor coverings and coatings.
How It Harms
Breath It In
We breath the radon gas in, and along with it radioactive particles (referred to as progeny). These radioactive particles enter you lungs.
We breath the radon gas in, and along with it radioactive particles (referred to as progeny). These radioactive particles enter you lungs. The radioactive particles in radon gas, damage the DNA inside your lungs. Your body has the ability to repair this damage, but as the cycle repeats itself, (typically after 10- 25 years) the odds that it incorrectly fixes the DNA increases.
The damaged DNA contributes to lung cancer.
Discovered in 1900 by Friedrich Ernst, radon was linked almost immediately to lung issues with miners exposed to very high doses. But the tie between radon in buildings and lung cancer was not heavily researched until 1984.
Radon is produced as part of the decay chain of Uranium 238. Each step of the decay process produces a different element with a different half-life. Uranium 238 has a half life of 4.47 billions years. Radium 226 has a half-life of about 1,600 years. Radon 222 has a half-life of about 3.48 days before it turns into Polonium 218. The decay continues until Lead 210 is achieved. Radon in a building decays over a few days, but more is entering all the time.
In 1984, a worker by the name of Stanley Watras, set off a radiation detector while helping build a nuclear power plant in Pennsylvania. However, there was no radioactive material in the plant yet. They tested his house and found very high levels of radon. This sparked intensive research into the prevalence of indoor radon and its effects.
The research over the following years established an undeniable link between radon and lung cancer. They even recently, have begun to identify the DNA damage that is strictly radon induced. CLICK HERE TO SEE RESEARCH
All major health organizations, warn of health risk of elevated indoor radon and recommend testing and mitigation.