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.