Did you know that more than half of the cases of lung cancer are triggered by overexposure to a radioactive substance called radon? Almost thousands of people die every year due to radon poisoning. And the worst part is that we can do very little to protect ourselves from this odorless, colorless radioactive gas. Radon is a naturally-occurring, inert, radioactive gas, derived from uranium deposits in the earth and is found in almost every home. Radon hacks into your buildings and homes through cracks and holes and then gets trapped inside, gradually accumulating in the absence of proper ventilation. It is carcinogenic in nature and prolonged exposure to this gas can put you at the risk of acquiring cancer. Like other radioactive gas, radon releases tiny radioactive alpha particles, which when inhaled enters our body and causes extensive damage to the cells and tissues of the lungs, over a prolonged period, causing radon poisoning.
Radon Poisoning Symptoms
- Radon is a colorless, odorless and tasteless gas and it is extremely difficult to detect the radon poisoning signs, until it gets cancerous.
- Children are more susceptible than adults to radon poisoning, due to the less developed immune system and differences in breathing patterns than adults.
- Radon is measured in picocuries per liter or air (pCi/l). So far, no safe levels have been established for radon and hence any radon in the air is too much.
- Just like the radiation poisoning symptoms, radon poisoning signs are also toxic to humans. Some of the most common signs of radon poising include chest pain, breathing difficulties, wheezing, shortness of breath, coughing, presence of blood in the cough and pneumonia.
- Radon poisoning, though occurs over a long period of time, causes cancer of the squamous cell, adenocarcinoma and small cell and large cell carcinoma of the lungs.
- Constant exposure to a high level of radon can trigger respiratory problems like, emphysema, development of lesion in the lungs and pulmonary fibrosis.
- Radon is also believed to effect embryonic development of the fetus. It is also believed to adversely affect a cell's genetic material and may lead to chromosomal aberrations too.
- Radon poisoning is one of the leading causes of cancerous death among non-smoking population and is the second largest cause of death in USA.
The treatment for radon poisoning is often the same as that of lung cancer. Although the treatment varies depending on the stage of the cancer; surgery, chemotherapy and even radiation can be employed to treat this. A successful treatment only depends on early diagnosis. So if you doubt the presence of radon in your home, getting an X-Ray done can help you become aware of its possible hazards.
If radon cracks exist in your house, it is best to repair them at the soonest. Installing a venting system or fan in the basement is also an effective way to stop radon gas from entering the house.