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article imageJanuary is National Radon Action month

By Tim Sandle     Jan 5, 2015 in Health
This January the s National Radon Action Month. This is a campaign focused on the U.S. but it is also one with a global scope. The awareness campaign is designed to educate people and to promote improved safety measures.
The reason why a national awareness event is staged is due to the concerns with radon gas levels in the U.S. Radon gas (more properly known as radon-222) is arguably becoming more of a widespread problem in many parts of the industrialized world. In the U.S., it is estimated that one in 15 homes are affected by elevated radon levels. Radon is a radioactive gas, it cannot be seen, smelt or tasted. Furthermore, special equipment is required to detect it.
Radon escapes easily from the ground into the air, where it decays and emits radioactive particles. Radon can invade homes and buildings through foundation cracks and openings. The gas can also directly penetrate through concrete. This means that in some areas radon is a problem that potentially affects millions of homes, schools, and other buildings.
Radon is the product of the indirect decay product of uranium or thorium. As radon decays, it produces new radioactive elements termed decay products. Radon breaks down (decays) into solid radioactive elements called radon progeny (such as polonium-218, polonium-214, and lead-214). Unlike the gaseous radon itself, these so-termed "radon daughters" are solid particulates and they can affix to surfaces, such as dust particles in the air.
Radon gas is considered a carcinogen. It is arguably the primary cause of lung cancer in non-smokers and causes people that do smoke greater chance of being diagnosed with lung cancer when exposed to this deadly gas.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency suggests levels of 4 (pCi/L) picocuries and above are addressed by local authorities. Levels of 4 pCi/L is equivalent to eight cigarettes a day or 250 chest X-rays per year. The curie is unit of radioactivity, it measures the ate of radioactive decay. A picocurie is a way of measuring low levels of radioactive decay.
The World Health Organization (WHO) states that between 3 percent and 14 percent of lung cancer cases are caused by radon, and suggest people take action against levels higher than 2.7 pCi/L.
The purpose of National Radon Action Month is to educate people about the health risks of radon. It also encourages people to learn about radon gas, and to inform people about how to test their homes for radon and what actions need to be taken if there are high levels of radon present.
More about Radon, Radon gas, Radiation, Radioactive
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