Radon - What You Need to Know Series
We get it. Most of us don’t know much about Radon.
If you are like most people, you have a vague idea what radon is and know it is possibly dangerous to your health. Even though we have known about the risks posed by radon in homes for 30 years or so, public awareness is still quite low. Oddly, while many of us worry about things like the dye in our foods we give little thought to the radioactive gas we are breathing in our homes.
This is not the PhD in radon but the field guide or the handbook.
What do I need to know?
While you can find much more information on our site if you are interested, this is the “Radon 101” you need to make informed decisions about Radon for your family.
What Radon Is
Radon (222) is an element on the periodic table, a noble, colorless, odorless, and radioactive gas. It comes out of the ground all around the earth and may be accumulating in your home.
Radon comes from, oddly enough, Uranium (similar to though not exactly what they make nukes out of). Over billions of years Uranium decays and goes through a series of transformations called the Uranium Decay Chain. More directly, Radon is a decay product of Radium which is widely dispersed in rocks and soil all around the earth.
Most elements in the decay chain are solids and therefore largely stay in the earth where they belong. Radon, however, is a gas and therefore rises through the ground to the surface. When this happens outside it dissipates into the atmosphere and is diluted as much as possible. In contrast, when it rises to the surface under your home much of it will enter your home through cracks and crevices in your foundation or simply through a crawlspace.
Radon (Rn-222) has a half-life of only 3.8 days, but the supply from the ground under your home is stable and consistently renews the levels inside. Radon then decays into other radioactive elements that pose additional danger.
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