post

Radon Gas

Apologies for a longer than usual delay in posting!  

I have been prompted by some conversations recently to write about radon gas.  What prompted me was overhearing a conversation in which a person described getting treatment to “removed the heavy metal Radon from their system”. YIKES!  Firstly, radon is NOT a metal.  Radon is a…as it is stated in the title…a GAS. 

So where does radon gas come from?  Radon gas is an odourless gas that it formed by the natural decay of uranium in the ground.  Uranium is a silvery metallic substance found in rocks and soil.  It is a very common naturally occurring element found all over the world.  Some rocks such as granite and volcanic rocks contain higher levels of radon.  Canada, is in fact one of the largest exporters of uranium.  

So back to radon gas:  

What is the problem with this gas emitted from uranium?  The big problem is that it is radioactive.  As uranium decays, it decays into, amoung other elements, radium.  Radium decays by emitting an alpha particle (2 protons and 2 neutrons), this new atom is now called radon.  Radon atoms now can easily move through cracks in rocks and escape into the air.  In fact, 80% of the background radiation is from radon gas (the remainder from cosmic sources).

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If this radon gas enters into a home, it can settle and become trapped (usually basements).  If we breathe this radon gas into our lungs it can be harmful over time.  In fact, it is the second leading cause of lung cancer next to smoking.    

Radon levels in your home can be easily tested.  In fact, a recent study of homes in Canada found that in every province, less than 8% of homes had elevated radon.  You can easily test radon in your home by purchasing a test kit from your local hardware store.  If, you have high levels, they can fairly easily be mitigated.  Essentially it involves sealing your basement walls and floors and installing a special fan.  

brett

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