Radon (Rn), or radon gas, is a naturally occurring radioactive element produced by the decay of uranium, thorium and radium found in rock, soil and water throughout the United States. Radon is colorless, odorless and tasteless, and therefore is not detectable by the human senses. Radon has a half-life of 3.8 days, meaning it decays and loses half of its atoms in that time. However, this half-life allows radon enough time to move into buildings from ground and water sources, where radon and its radon decay products (RDP’s) can be inhaled. These characteristics make radon particularly dangerous.
As radon decays into polonium218, lead214, bismuth214 and polonium214 – radioactive alpha particles, beta particles and gamma rays are released. These RDP’s, or radon progeny, further decay and are far more radioactive than radon, having half-lives of less than 30 minutes. As a result, RDP’s are the primary source of radon induced lung cancer.
RDP’s are solid particles that behave like invisible aerosols in the air. They may also attach to dust and smoke particles in the air and be carried into the lungs. Once inhaled, ionizing radiation produced by these decaying elements is delivered directly to the lung tissue, damaging and potentially mutating bronchial epithelium DNA, causing lung cancer.
Fortunately, radon can be easily prevented from entering your home. Take the first step in protecting your and your family’s health and schedule a radon test today!