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A Short Radon History Lesson

Thursday, December 23rd by Samantha Walton

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is a forerunner in the radon industry leading the way for researchers and awareness initiatives regarding the effects of radon exposure.

Knowledge is power and the EPA wants everyone to have the power over their health. Although we cannot distinguish radon by using any of our senses, we can have the power. We don't have to feel helpless.

First, test your home's radon levels. The EPA recommends mitigating any home with levels at or above 4.0 picocuries per liter. Although any amount of radon could cause cancer, the lower the better. The EPA estimates that 1 in 15 homes across the U.S. have 4.0 pCi/L of radon. In fact, they've also had some homes with more than 2,000 pCi/L! Can you imagine?

So let's investigate the history of radon.

In 1899 Ernest Rutherford and R.B. Owens founded radon-220 a rare isotope of the more common radon-222, which would later be discovered by Friedrich E. Dorn the next year. This radon-222 is radioactive and the natural result of radium-226, which is in most rock and soil compositions.

The scientists had been studying the decay of radium only to discover that radioactive elements actually become lighter elements, since radon decays into polonium.

Radon is the heaviest of all gases and is considered a noble gas on the periodic chart. This means it is one of six gases all with very similar characteristics and considerably low chemical reactivity. All the noble gasses are odorless and colorless. Radon, however, became recognized as a serious problem in 1984 after radon decay particulates were discovered on a nuclear plant worker's clothing. He entered the plant and set off an alarm for having a noticeable radioactive charge-- before even entering the plant! The particulates were thought to have been originating in his home.

This man's encounter is very similar to us all. We don't know radon is present within our very own home, job or school! Although radon is outside as well, its concentration is quite low at about.4 pCi/L. The problem arises when radon seeps into homes from the soil and through cracks. Once inside, the radon volumes intensify because of the confined space.

We inhale radon and the particles stick to the lining in our lungs. Being toxic, radon actually causes lung cancer. It's the leading cause of lung cancer amongst nonsmokers. Radon induced lung cancer actually kills more people annually than colon, prostate and breast cancer combined. Unfortunately, people are unaware of the severity of radon and lung cancer in general, which leads to the uncanny number of cases and low number of research dollars. The amount of money per death is about 5-18 times less than other cancers.

Contact the radon experts at National Radon Defense and we'll test your home's radon levels and provide the perfect radon mitigation system for your home. We want you to be happy and healthy. Knowledge is power and we're proud to be the messengers.