Since a close family member discovered the presence of high radon concentrations in his home, I’ve been more proactive in trying to spread awareness about the subject of radon and the tools people have to prevent its consequences.
And even though I’m happy to say that I’ve seen an increase of widespread knowledge and more people becoming aware of it, it is still surprising – and kind of frightening, to be honest – the amount of people that remain ignorant about such dangerous substance and the likelihood it could be right under their noses.
To this day, when I bring up the subject of Radon with a group or a person, one of the most common questions that come up is “Can radon cause cancer?” or “Does radon really give you cancer?” And it chills me to the bone to think that there are people out there still unsure or unaware of that fact.
Can radon cause cancer?
Yes! But let me give you a little background.
Radon is an odorless, colorless, radioactive gas. It occurs naturally by the decay of naturally radioactive components in the ground (like uranium) and then seeps out of the ground or into water supplies.
Now, let me kill another common misconception about radon and radioactive materials in the ground: They aren’t that rare!
Sometimes, you need to dig deep into the ground to find radioactive material, but in other instances, there can be traces of them just below the foundations of a building. The worst thing is that, since radon is effectively a gas, it isn’t restricted to remain below ground like other radioactive components. Even more concerning is that regular groundwork labor, like piping or building a house’s foundations, removes and alters the shape of a location enough to allow some leakage of the substance to the surface if it was sealed below.
Now, the most common way in which people gets expose to radon is indoors. What happens is that, if a foundation of radon gas was perturbed under a home, amounts of it can make their way inside, through piping and cracks in the floor and start concentrating in there.
Once the concentration reaches a certain level, exposure is almost guaranteed, especially if the house has poor natural ventilation of faulty HVAC setups.
Radon and Cancer
Being exposed to radon for long periods of times can lead a healthy, non-smoker person to suffer from lung cancer. When radon gas is present in the air it breaks down into tiny radioactive elements, called radon progeny, and these can lodge themselves in the lining of the lungs, giving off radiations directly to the organs.
This radiation can most certainly damage lung cells and lead to lung cancer.
How likely is this to happen?
Most people know that cigarette smoking is the leading cause of lung cancer in the US. However, most people ignore that radon gas is the second most common cause of this malady, with studies affirming that as many as twenty thousand lung cancer deaths a year are directly related to radon.
Some studies even suggest that radon exposure might be related to other kinds of cancer, but evidence of these are mixed and not remotely as strong as the connection that has been made between radon and lung cancer.
What you can do about it
Almost invariably, right after I answer with all these facts to the question “Can radon cause cancer?” everybody asks me about what measures they can take to avoid being victims of this hazard.
The good news is that there’s plenty to be done, even if a dangerous amount of radon is present in your home, there are several methods of radon remediation that can be used to return the place to safe levels, but invariably it all start by conducting radon testing in your home.
So, stop wasting time and risking exposure! Take action today and have your place tested for radon presence. It’s a simple process that can save you and your loved one from a terrible condition. There’s just no excuse to avoid it.