Radon is an invisible gas formed in the Earth’s crust. It surrounds every one of us as part of the air we breathe.
Radon is the number one cause of lung cancer amongst non-smokers. If considered as a separate disease, lung cancer in people who have never smoked would rank seventh in global cancer mortality.
people die from radon-related
lung cancer every year in the
United States alone.
The rocks and soil beneath our homes contain traces of uranium. Over time, the uranium breaks down and forms other elements. This is called radioactive decay. Radon is one link in the decay chain of uranium. When radon gas decays, it emits radioactive radi- ation in the form of an alpha particle, a radioactive particle made up of two protons and two neutrons.
When an alpha particle hits our DNA it can cause damage to a cell's blueprint. Cells constantly replicate themselves, but with a broken blueprint the replication process can become cancerous.
According to particle physics, any form of radiation can behave as both a particle and as a wave depending on how you observe it. That is why an alpha particle is the same as alpha radiation.
All our cells contain DNA, which acts as an instruction manual or blueprint for cells on how to create copies of themselves.
Radioactive radiation takes different forms including alpha, beta, gamma, X-ray, and neutron radiation, which are able to penetrate different substances.
When we think of radiation, we often think of artificial sources, such as X-ray or medical scans, but these sources have little effect.
Since alpha particles are ingested or inhaled, they come in contact with living cells which are not able to stop the radiation.
Alpha radiation has a much more severe effect on DNA than gamma radiation. This difference in damage can be compared to the DNA being bombarded by a cannonball instead of simply going through acupuncture.
Modern buildings are often well insulated and windows are usually kept closed. This can allow radon to build up to levels where our DNA repair system is no longer able to keep all cells healthy.
The radon concentration within buildings is often much greater than outside. The gas comes from the ground and is captured and contained in our homes, resulting in levels that we seldom find in nature.
Radon rises and can enter a home or workplace through cracks in the foundation, entry points for pipes, wiring and more.
Radon levels at sea
are usually quite low.
1 in 30
are fundamentally radon sensitive.
Children have still developing organs; their replicative tissue is more vulnerable to DNA damage.
Children breathe faster; they actually respire 2-3 times faster than adults as their lungs are much smaller.
Children weigh less; their exposure is greater, as it is measured in concentration per kilogram.
Children have more life ”left”, and thus could live long enough to get cancer from early life radon exposure.
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