Radon is found abundantly in nature as a chemical element. The properties of radon gas include it being a colorless, odorless, tasteless gas that is a natural occurring by-product of radium decay; thus making it well known for its radioactivity. Its atomic number is 86 and its symbol is ‘Rn’. Radon exposure is considered to be extremely dangerous as it has been shown to be a causative factor in cancer. In fact, radon poisoning is a type of radiation poisoning. The natural breakdown of uranium in rock, water and soil results in radon. During its half life of 3.8 days it breaks down into Polonium and then into a Lead atom, both of which are toxic elements. Being a gas, it gets into the very air we breathe. Radon gas has been known to seep into homes through cracks in stones, mortar, soil and concrete that are the foundations of the homes themselves, especially through porous concrete block walls. If water is used, trapped radon gets released into the air.
Symptoms of Radon Poisoning
Radon gas cannot be seen or smelled, thus it becomes very difficult to trace. The difficulty in recognizing radon poisoning signs is compounded because it is difficult to know if one is even getting exposed to radon. Unlike any other poisonous gases, there are no early discernable symptoms and its symptoms cannot be clearly defined. However, even if this gas does not exhibit early symptoms, it does not make it any less toxic to humans.
Radon is radioactive, it decays and produce polonium-218 and polonium-214. Both polonium 218 and 214 emit alpha particles as they decay. Their energy gets absorbed by any surface or object that these alpha particles hit. However, due to the thickness of the human skin these particles do not get absorbed, but it can enter lung and bronchial tissue when breathed in. Lung cancer can result from the extensive damage these particles can do to the lungs.
Radon gas does not pose a major threat in the open air, however in confined and closed spaces like rooms and buildings, the risk increases dramatically. Factors like the duration of the exposure and the location of the building play a vital role in the development of lung cancer. An average person receives a higher dose of radiation from the radon levels in their home than from the combined exposure to all other radiation sources, both natural and man-made, this according to the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).