Why is there a health risk?

The only known risk to health associated with exposure to radon in indoor air is an increased risk of developing lung cancer. This risk depends on:

 

1. The average concentration of radon in the building

2. The length of time to which a person is exposed;

3. Smoking.

 

cancer caused by radonThe American Cancer Society estimates that a non-smoker exposed to life at high concentrations of radon has a 1 in 20 chance of developing lung cancer. The combined effects of exposure to radon and smoking greatly increase the risk of lung cancer. This risk increases to 1 in 3 for a smoker exposed to life at the same concentration.

 

During its decay, radon emits an alpha particle and transforms into other elements called “progeny” or “descendants” of radon can be absorbed through the lungs. Two of these decay products, polonium- 218 and polonium-214 decay rapidly and also emit alpha particles. When alpha particles collide with  matter, such as cells, energy is transferred to the material and damage. Human skin is thick enough to prevent the penetration of particles to the alpha most vulnerable tissue in the skin. However, if the radon and its decay products are inhaled, the alpha particles emitted can damage lung tissue and lung unprotected sensitive, which can cause lung cancer.radon-lung-cancer

 

Originally, the assessment of cancer risk radon-related lung based on exposure to high concentrations in uranium mines, while the exposure to lower concentrations found in homes remained uncertain. However, recent studies in residences have confirmed that even lower concentrations of radon as those found in homes posed a risk of lung cancer. Many years should generally elapse between exposure and the onset of the disease (onset begins on average at the age of 60 years to lung cancer). Unlike smoking, apart from lung cancer, radon exposure does not cause disease or other respiratory conditions such as coughing or headaches.