Radon is a type of radioactive gas that is a byproduct of the natural decay of elements found in rocks and soil, including thorium, radium and uranium. It is a clear, odorless, tasteless gas that takes special testing equipment to find. While radon gas often exists at low, harmless levels outdoors, it can quickly become dangerous in areas that do not have proper ventilation, including underground mines, basements and tunnels.
Again, at low levels, radon is not dangerous. In fact, everyone breathes in some amount of radon every single day. But when those levels become elevated in your home (typically your basement or first floor because of their proximity to the ground), you suddenly have a higher risk of developing cancer.
This makes it important to include radon testing in Des Moines, IA whenever you purchase a new property, or to test every several years just to make sure radon levels in your home are under control.
How radon causes cancer
Radon decays very rapidly, and when it does it sheds small radioactive particles, which can be inhaled. Once in the respiratory system, these particles can damage the cells lining your lungs. If exposed to these particles for long periods of time, they could cause lung cancer. In addition, some studies have shown an increased risk of leukemia associated with long-term radon exposure, but these studies are not yet conclusive.
The cancer risks associated with radon were identified after scientists analyzed the rates of lung cancer among underground miners. The hypothesis that the problem was caused by radon exposure was confirmed after experimental rodent studies.
Today, scientist agree radon causes lung cancer in humans, and that radon levels in a home or workplace must be kept within those safe, low levels to prevent potential radon-related cancers.
Exposure to radon does not present the same level of lung cancer risk as, say, smoking, which is still far and away the most common cause of lung cancer. But according to scientists, anywhere from 15,000 to 22,000 lung cancer deaths that happen in America each year are primarily caused by radon exposure.
A person who is exposed to both cigarette smoke and radon has a much greater risk of developing cancer than someone who is exposed to only one of those factors. In fact, the majority of cancer deaths caused by radon occur among smokers. Still, more than 10 percent of these radon-related deaths occur among people who do not smoke and have not been subjected to long-term secondhand smoke exposure.
The only way to know if you have an elevated level of radon anywhere in your home is to schedule a radon test. Long-term tests will give you more accurate results, but there are also short-term detectors that will measure radon in a home for two to 90 days. You can purchase this testing equipment yourself or hire a contractor to complete the test for you. Many home inspectors offer radon testing as an add-on service.
For more information about radon mitigation in Des Moines, IA, contact Sir Build-a-Lot today.