Thanks to decades of education and PSAs, most folks are aware of (and know to avoid) many common types of toxic gas, such as carbon monoxide, chlorine, and methane. Unfortunately, there is another, much more lethal vapor that has literally and figuratively slipped between the cracks: Radon.
What is radon gas?
Radon is a radioactive and cancer-causing gas that is impossible to see, smell, feel, or taste. In fact, the only way to know it’s in the air around you is to test your home for radon.
Radon is formed from the natural decay of uranium, a heavy metal commonly found in underground rocks and soil. As uranium breaks down into radium, the noble gas radon is released.
How do I become exposed to radon?
Dangerous concentrations of radon can be found in all types of buildings, from houses and apartment buildings to schools and offices. In fact, according to the EPA, nearly 1 in 15 homes contain elevated levels of radon.
So how does that radon get inside?
The most common way that radon enters homes is through gaps and cracks in the building’s foundation. In areas where water is taken from a private source, such as a well, radon can enter through faucets, showerheads, and other plumbing fixtures.
Though rare, radon can also be introduced—albeit at much lower levels—through natural building materials such as concrete, wallboard, and granite countertops.
What are the symptoms of radon exposure?
Prolonged radon exposure can cause serious health issues, most notably lung cancer. In fact, according to the National Cancer Institute, as many as 22,000 Americans die each year from radon-related lung cancer, which is second only to smoking.
The bad news is, there are no noticeable early warning signs of radon exposure. It often takes years of high-level exposure before one begins to display chronic and damaging symptoms, many of which are shared with lung cancer itself.
Per WebMD, the symptoms of radon exposure can include any or all of the following:
- Shortness of breath/difficulty breathing
- A persistent cough/wheezing
- Coughing up blood
- Hoarseness/voice changes
- Difficulty swallowing
- Swelling of the neck or face
- Knee, back, chest, or bone pain
- Hand, arm, or shoulder weakness
- Chronic headaches
- Yellowing of fingernails or toenails
- Loss of appetite
- Unexplained weight loss
Since many of these symptoms are present in other common conditions, lung cancer due to radon exposure is often misdiagnosed as tuberculosis, acid reflux, lymphoma, and several other ailments.
What can I do to protect myself and my family from radon?
The first step to take to ensure the health of you and your family is to test your home for radon. The fastest and most cost-effective way to do that is to purchase a do-it-yourself radon test kit.
If you live in the greater Minneapolis area, American Radon Mitigation has the certified radon mitigation experts you need. We go the extra mile to ensure you get a system that is designed and engineered for your home. This allows us to reduce your home’s radon levels as low as possible while saving you money on annual operating costs.
Get a free radon mitigation estimate today!