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The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has deemed January as National Radon Awareness Month. During January, Portland Fire & Rescue will provide information and resources to increase your radon awareness.
Exposure to Radiation
Each of us is exposed to a certain amount of radiation each day, most of which comes from natural sources such as radon. Radon accounts for the largest percentage -- more than half -- of radiation exposure that the average person in the United States receives.
What is Radon?
Radon is a naturally occurring radioactive gas that is odorless, tasteless, and colorless. Radon gas is found throughout the world in varying concentrations. Radon forms naturally from the radioactive decay of Uranium in rock, soil, and water. When radon gas is formed, it migrates through the soil to the air above.
Why is Radon Harmful?
Radon breaks down into solid particles know as radon decay products. These decay particles can become trapped in the lungs and may damage tissue by emitting radiation. Over time, exposure to elevated levels of radon increases a person's risk of developing lung cancer. This is the only known health effect. For smokers, this lung cancer risk is even higher.
In fact, the World Health Organization and EPA identified radon gas as the leading cause of lung cancer in for non-smokers in 2010. They report that radon is the leading cause of lung cancer deaths among nonsmokers in America and claims the lives of about 20,000 Americans each year.
Can Radon Enter My Home?
The major source of radon in a home comes from the ground beneath it. Radon moves up through the soil and enters through cracks and holes in the foundation. Radon gas can become trapped in a home and build to unhealthy levels. Radon can also enter a home through the water supply. Radon can be released into the air during showers and other household uses. However, radon from the water supply is most often minimal compared to ground sources. Any home can have a radon problem, including newly built, well-insulated, and homes with or without a basement.
Link here to the State of Oregon's Radiation Protection Services - Radon Gas official website for additional radon information and resources.
Visit the Fire Blog each week during the month of January for information to help you determine if your home needs to be tested for radon levels, how radon tests are conducted, and a suggested course of action if tests show high levels of radon gas in your home.
Portland Fire & Rescue
We Respond: Always Ready, Always There
January 10, 2011