What is radon and why is it dangerous?

Radon gas is an invisible, tasteless and odorless radioactive gas found naturally in the environment. It forms from the decay of uranium in soil, rocks and water and can seep into buildings through cracks in their foundation, walls and floors to accumulate dangerous levels.

Radon is a carcinogen, meaning that it can lead to cancer. According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), radon exposure is the second-leading cause of lung cancer after smoking; 21,000 lung cancer deaths annually can be attributed to exposure.

Radon gas can damage cells that line the lungs and lead to cancer over time, with risks depending on its level, duration, and whether or not its intake coincides with smoking or past history of smoking.

EPA advises all homes should be tested for radon levels above 4 picocuries per liter (pCi/L). If this is found, steps should be taken to mitigate them using techniques like sealing foundation cracks and openings, installing ventilation systems and using radon reduction systems.

Radon should not only be considered an issue in homes; it can be present in schools, offices and other buildings as well. With proper testing and mitigation strategies in place, this problem can easily be addressed to reduce risks of lung cancer caused by overexposure to radon.

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