Post Content

thursday-radon-image

Radon is a colorless, odorless and tasteless radioactive gas. Radon is created when naturally occurring elements such as uranium and radium in rocks and soil break down during a process called radioactive decay. Once radon is emitted, it migrates upwards to the ground surface through pore spaces in the soil. Radon can enter homes through cracks, joints, cavities and gaps in building floors and walls. Radon gas can also dissolve in well water and become released into indoor air from running water, but groundwater is not thought to be a major contributing source of indoor radon.

In outdoor air, radon is diluted with other atmospheric gases and is present at very low concentrations. However, inside buildings and enclosed spaces radon can accumulate to higher concentrations. The concentration of radon gas is measured in picocuries per liter (pCi/L). A curie is an international unit of measurement of radioactivity, and a picocurie is one-trillionth of a curie.

Radon, Lung Cancer, and Smoking

Radon can damage lung tissue and can increase the risk of developing lung cancer over the long-term. In fact, radon is the second greatest cause of lung cancer in the U.S. The EPA estimates that over 21,000 lung cancer deaths in the U.S. each year are related to radon.

If you are a smoker, the potential health consequences of long-term exposure to radon are even greater. Smoking and radon exposure work together to increase the risk of developing lung cancer up to 10 times greater than the risk to people who have never smoked. Radon is the primary cause of lung cancer among people who have never smoked.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA) recommends that radon mitigation systems be installed in homes that have radon levels of 4 pCi/L or higher. Mitigation technologies today can reduce indoor radon levels to 2 pCi/L or lower.

The Massachusetts Department of Public Health (MDPH)’s Bureau of Environmental Health (BEH) has a Radon Assessment Unit (RAU), within the Indoor Air Quality Program, that advises and assists residents of the Commonwealth with their radon questions. The RAU also assists realtors, business owners, and facility managers with their questions regarding radon in air or water. You can contact the RAU to learn more about radon or to get information about certified radon mitigation and measurement specialists. The RAU also provides radon testing services to schools upon request. The program can be reached at 1-800-RADON-95 (1-800-723-6695 – in Massachusetts only) as well as at (413) 586-7525 x 3185.

 

Editor’s Note: This post was adapted from materials provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Written By:


in the Bureau of Environmental Health

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Recent Posts

Tracking the Latest Environmental Health Trends in MA posted on Jun 19

Massachusetts Environmental Public Health Tracking (EPHT) is a program that brings together environmental health data to inform residents about health and the environment in their community and throughout the state. Our program, now 16 years old, has a wealth of environmental health information available and   …Continue Reading Tracking the Latest Environmental Health Trends in MA

Highlights of the June 13th Public Health Council Meeting posted on Jun 13

The June monthly meeting of the Public Health Council included a Determination of Need request, updates on the status of preliminary and final public health regulations, and an informational presentation from DPH staff. First, the Council took up a Determination of Need request from Massachusetts General   …Continue Reading Highlights of the June 13th Public Health Council Meeting

Picky Eating—Not Fun for Anyone! posted on Jun 13

Picky Eating—Not Fun for Anyone!

By Terri Mendoza & Raychel Adreani Does your child stick to a few favorite foods and refuse to try anything new?   Like many parents, you may be dealing with picky eating.  We know it can be frustrating and challenging, and you probably worry that your   …Continue Reading Picky Eating—Not Fun for Anyone!