Considering all the precautions we take to keep our homes safe and our families healthy, one of the most dangerous threats to our well being is often undetected. Many homes contain unhealthy levels of radon gas.
Radon is an odorless, colorless radioactive gas, which is formed by the natural breakdown of uranium. Radon can be found in high concentrations in rock and soil that contains granite, shale, phosphate and uranium, or even fill soil containing industrial waste. Radon can be present in any area, but typically concerns are higher in hilly or mountainous areas and lower in sandy, coastal areas.
Radon gas moves through the soil toward the earth's surface where it either safely dissipates in outdoor air or seeps into homes through cracks and gaps in the foundation. Radon can also be introduced into a home through the water-supply, particularly if there is a private well.
Once trapped inside a home, radon can accumulate to the point where it can be harmful to the occupants.Actually, it is the breakdown of radon, into what is referred to as radon decay products, that represents thegreatest concern. These radioactive products become attached to airborne particles, which can be inhaled and ultimately cause lung tissue damage and cancer. Smokers are especially prone to the adverse effects of long-term radon exposure.
If radon is a concern in your home, elevated radon levels are more likely to occur during the winter months when the house is generally in closed-house conditions. The best way to test your home's radon level is by purchasing a special test kit or by hiring a professional to perform the measurement.
For more information, visit http://www.epa.gov/iaq/radon or http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/iyh-vsv/environ/radon_e.html