Radon is an element on the periodic table, a noble, colorless, odorless, and radioactive gas that may be accumulating in your home or business.
It is a decay product of, oddly enough, Uranium (yes, the stuff they make into nukes). Over billions of years Uranium decays and goes through a series of transformations called the Uranium Decay Chain. More directly, Radon is a decay product of Radium (Ra-226) which is widely dispersed in rocks and soil. Most elements in the decay chain are solids and therefore largely stay in the earth where they belong. Radon, however, is a gas and therefore rises through the ground to the surface. When this happens outside it dissipates into the atmosphere and is diluted as much as possible. In contrast, when it rises to the surface under your home much of it will enter your home through cracks and crevices in your foundation or simply through a crawlspace.
Radon (Rn-222) has a half-life of only 3.8 days, but the supply from the earth to a structure may be consistent enough to continually renew the levels in the structure. Radon then decays into other radioactive elements that may be inhaled and cause lung cancer.
Radon is also the second leading cause of lung cancer second only to smoking. The EPA estimates that over 21,000 in the US die each year from Radon induced lung cancer. That is over 50 people per day.
Many of us are concerned when our children are exposed to second hand smoke. While 21,000 people in the US are estimated to die from lung cancer caused by Radon, only 3,000 die are estimated to die each year from lung cancer caused by second hand smoke.
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