What to Know About the Dangers of Radon Gas in Your Home

A former U.S. hockey player wants to raise awareness about radon gas.Radon gas can seep in through the floor. Getty Images

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You can’t touch it, see it, or smell it but radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer outside of cigarette smoking.

Radon is a naturally occurring radioactive gas. It’s found in soil, rock, and even water as the breakdown of uranium. When uranium is broken down, it’s released into the air and can build up, causing critical long-term health effects.

The gas can sometimes be concentrated in homes built on natural soil with natural uranium deposits. It enters through cracks in the floors, walls, and even through construction joints or gaps around service pipes, electrical wires, and pits. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reports that 1 in every 15 homes in the United States is estimated to have elevated radon levels.

When radon gas enters the body, it exposes the lungs to small amounts of radiation. In small quantities, experts say this is harmless. However, in persistent exposures or larger quantities, radon can damage the cells of the lining of the lungs, increasing a person’s chance of developing lung cancer.

Radon can’t be entirely prevented since it’s naturally present in the air. Despite this, high concentrations can come at a costly health expense.

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