Radon is a colorless, odorless, radioactive gas that forms when radium decays. Occurring as naturally as oxygen, radon is common, but harmful to your health and potentially deadly.
Radon is found all over the United States, but some areas have higher levels than others. Radon, like many other elements, occurs naturally, and harmlessly diffuses through outdoor air. But when radon comes into a home or building, the condensed, elevated levels can be harmful to the point of causing lung cancer.
A recent NAS (National Academy of Science) report stated that radon is one of the leading causes of lung cancer in the United States, second only to cigarette smoke. While lung cancer is the primary, potential health risk of radon exposure, it's not the only one. Other effects may include: gastrointestinal problems and stomach cancer. While some claim a connection, there currently is no scientific proof that radon exposure causes such things as fatigue, headaches, respiratory illnesses such as asthma, allergies and rashes.
Radon gas doesn't discriminate: it is equally dangerous to all people, regardless of weight, sex, race, or age. However, the very young, the elderly, and those with a weakened immune system are particularly at risk from the effects of radon.
Radon enters a home through various means: crawl spaces, brick walls, sump pumps, cellars, or any where that the flow of air is allowed to stagnate. Since humans cannot detect radon gas by sight or smell, and the effects are not immediate, it is important to have a home tested for radon. Inexpensive radon test kits are easy to find in discount stores, hardware stores, online merchants, home improvement stores, and even some county health departments.
Many homeowners try to thwart radon by sealing cracks in the foundation of the home or increasing ventilation. These may help somewhat, but there is no guarantee that radon will no longer pose a threat.
The best means of controlling radon levels in your home is to have a mitigation unit installed. A mitigation unit will simply remove radon by ventilating it out of the living areas.