Information About Radon

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What is Radon?

Radon is a naturally occurring radioactive gas that is tasteless, odorless, and colorless. It comes from the radioactive decay (breakdown) of radium, which comes from the radioactive decay of uranium, both of which are found in at least trace amounts in almost any kind of soil or rock. 

Radon enters homes through openings in the foundation floor or walls, wherever the foundation is in contact with the soil. Because it's a gas, radon can travel through the soil, and it generally moves from an area of higher pressure to one of lower pressure. In most cases, the soil is at higher pressure than the house, and if radon is traveling along the foundation, it can be pushed into the lower pressure area through openings such as sump crocks, crawlspaces, space around plumbing or wiring, floor/wall joints, cracks, hollow block walls, or other entry points. Ultimately, tiny or large openings in the foundation floor or walls can act as entry points, and the pressure difference between the soil and the house acts as the driving force that allows radon to enter your home.

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Radon Health Risks

Radon is a Class A carcinogen, which means it is known to cause cancer in humans.  It is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States resulting in approximately 21,000 lung cancer deaths each year.  Only smoking causes more lung cancers.

The problem occurs when radon and radon decay products (RDPs) are inhaled.  When radon is exhaled, many RDPs are also exhaled, but some of the RDPs stay trapped in the lungs.  As they undergo radioactive decay, they emit alpha energy, and the alpha particles can strike sensitive lung tissue causing physical and/or chemical damage to the DNA. 

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Videos on Radon health risks from NRPP AARST:

Informative Video on Radon

It is important to be informed about Radon and the dangers it presents to the home. This video from michigan.gov briefly explains where radon comes from and some places you can get test kits to be sure your home is not at dangerous Radon levels.

All radon and radon mitigation information above and graphics provided by Michigan.gov unless otherwise noted