Radon: How Indoor and Outdoor Levels Lead to Lung Cancer

In today’s world, indoor and outdoor air has become a major issue. If the human race is not careful to look into how the air is polluted, we could be putting our lives on the line. It is vital for us to consider the harmful effects and the huge impacts of the air pollution we inhale. There are numerous precautions we can take to ensure cleanliness of our air. We need to take necessary precaution to manage air pollution to deal with harmful gases such as carbon monoxide, sulphur, and radon among others.

Credible research has surged in the past decade that links environmental quality of air to causality of chronic respiratory problems and more severe conditions such as lung cancer. The effects of poor indoor and outdoor air quality are even more graphic.

Among the most prevalent impurities in the air is radon. Radon is a naturally occurring radioactive gas that is released from decay of soil, radium rocks, thorium and uranium. It is invisible, colourless, and tasteless. It seeps through the ground into the atmosphere. Radon gas exists in trace amounts in well-ventilated areas but in closed areas such as underground mines, it exists in substantial amounts that heighten the risk of lung cancer. Therefore, everybody breathes radon; however, it is the amount of inhaled radon that makes the difference.

Radon infiltrates through cracks that are in the floor, walls, foundation and accumulates indoors. It may also be released from building materials and from water in wells that contain radon. It is particularly high in well-insulated homes, tightly sealed enclosures and houses that are built on soils that are rich in uranium, thorium and radium. Outdoor air has lower levels of radon concentration since seawaters that have minimal radium levels act as sinks. The outdoor levels of radon are determined majorly by soil characteristics, meteorological conditions and local topology.

So, how does radon lead to lung cancer? This gas decays at very high rates releasing small radioactive particles. When the tiny particles are inhaled, they damage the cells that line the respiratory system. As a result, long-term exposure leads to lung cancer. Did you know that lung cancer is the only cancer proven to be related with inhaling radon?

Homes should be tested for radon. Homes in the same neighbourhood can have different levels of radon. Therefore, testing for radon is the only way to establish the severity of radon in your home. Also, radon testing is an easy and affordable process that can help you manage the risk of the gas. Lung cancer cases can be greatly minimized or avoided if the levels of radon both indoors and outdoors are well managed. Reducing radon levels can be done by sealing cracks in the floor and walls, or by altering the flow of air in a building.

How Poor Indoor Air Quality Negatively Effects Health

For lots of people, indoor air quality is sometimes as bad as outside air quality. In some places, the indoor air quality is even worse. Indoor air quality is affected by a number of factors. Some of these factors are structural while others have to do with your habits and conduct. Every year lots of people get sick and become diseased because of this. A typical property could be affected by one of the many contaminants available in a home. The unfortunate reality is that often people aren’t able to link the symptoms to the poor indoor air quality until it’s too late.

                                                Common Health Symptoms.

The symptoms involved usually resemble the symptoms of other conditions such as stress, allergies, influenza, and colds. The most common symptoms are sneezing, fatigue, upper respiratory congestion, watery eyes, dizziness, and headaches. The others are coughing, facial pimples, shortness of breath and disorientation. The moment you enter a room, and you begin to feel these symptoms the chances are that the room has indoor air pollution. Be acutely aware if the symptoms cease once you leave the room. Always look around to make sure no chemicals and contaminants are lying around the office.

                                               Respiratory Health Effects.

While most of these health effects are general and resemble the symptoms of lots of other diseases, there are those that are specific. The primary tissue and organs affected by poor indoor quality is the respiratory system. The respiratory symptoms are dyspnea (painful breathing), Rhinitis (a runny nose, nasal inflammation or nasal congestion), epistaxis (nose bleeding), and pharyngitis (a sore throat & coughs). The other respiratory challenges are wheezing, severe lung disease and worsening asthma.

                                                 More Severe Health Effects.

Besides the respiratory symptoms and the general symptoms, there are severe reactions to such poor indoor air quality. These are the reactions that require immediate medical attention. Usually, this happens when the poor air quality triggers other conditions, or the air quality is at toxic levels. These severe symptoms include rashes, lethargy, loss of hearing, fever, and chills. The other major symptoms include rapid heartbeat, eye irritation, dizziness, vomiting, nausea, and muscle pains. These symptoms usually begin to occur after long-term exposure to poor indoor air quality.

                                      Top indoor air Contaminants.

The contaminants of indoor air fall into 12 broad categories. These include Formaldehyde, VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds), Pesticides, Lead, Carbon Monoxide, Carbon dioxide, nitrogen dioxide as well as Sulfur Dioxide. The others fall under radon, asbestos, biological hazards, RSP (respirable particulates), ETS (Tobacco Smoke) and PAHs (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons). Most of these contaminants can be found in the cleaning products, perfumes, dyes and glues that we use on a daily basis. Always make sure you check out the ingredients used in the manufacture of an item before buying it for use.

                                    Diseases Linked To Poor Indoor Air Quality.

Poor air quality has often been categorized as the top environmental health risk. The poor quality has been associated with millions of deaths annually. The top disease arising from poor indoor air quality include stroke which accounts for 34% of all the deaths. The others are ischaemic heart disease (26%), COPD (22%), acute lower respiratory infections in infants, and lung cancer (6%).

                                                    How to Improve Indoor Air Quality.

If your house isn’t designed to specification, the chances are that it may have poor air quality. The poor air quality could be linked to hazardous items stored within, poor hygiene or poor ventilation. First, you should ensure that you install an efficient and functioning HVAC system. Secondly run the A/C system as often as you need to. Thirdly manage the humidity levels with the rooms at all times since they can lead to the growth of mold and dust mites. Lastly bring in a contractor to improve and expand your existing ventilation systems.