lung cancer. Radon comes from the radioactive breakdown of naturally occurring radium found in most Florida soils. As a gas in the
soil, it enters buildings through small openings in the foundation. Since the building can hold the radon similarly to smoke trapped
under a glass, indoor radon concentrations can increase to many times that of outdoor levels.
What is a safe level of radon gas?
A safe level of radon gas is no radon gas. Radon gas is a carcinogen which causes lung cancer. The US EPA has put it plainly, stating,
“Any radon exposure has some risk of causing lung cancer. The lower the radon level in your home, the lower your family’s risk of
lung cancer.” The average person receives a higher dose of radiation from the radon levels in their home than from their combined
exposure to all other radiation sources, natural or man-made. Radon gas is a naturally-occurring byproduct of the radioactive decay
of Uranium in the soil. Depending on your geographic location, the radon levels of the air you breathe outside of your home may be
as high as 0.75 pCi/L. The national average of outside radon levels is 0.4 pCi/L and it is estimated by the National Academy of Sciences
that outdoor radon levels cause approximately 800 of the 21,000 radon induced lung cancer deaths in the US each year. Your risk of
lung cancer increases substantially with exposure to higher radon levels. Lung cancer risk rises 16% per 2.7 pCi/L increase in radon
exposure. (World Health Organization, 2009) Studies show that radon is the primary cause of lung cancer among people who have never
smoked. However, the absolute numbers of radon-induced lung cancers are much larger in people who smoke, or who have smoked in the
past, due to a strong combined effect of smoking and radon.
Where is Radon?
The truth is that at least very small amounts of
radon can be found anywhere and everywhere. The main consideration is not where radon can be found. Where it can collect should be
a primary concern. As a heavy gas, it is easy to collect and not especially easy to disperse. Modern home/building construction tends
to seal building up in the name of energy efficiency. An air tight building will surely compound any radon problem that
was already likely to occur. Although this isn’t a reason to throw out the idea of energy efficiency, the possibility should be addressed
and monitored by radon gas detectors. Radon testing via continous radon monitors and/or other form of long or short term tests
is the only way to determine if radon exits in your home. If you have any concerns regarding radon test your home, school or