Radon (Rn) is a gaseous radioactive element that occurs from the natural breakdown of uranium in the soil and rocks. It is colorless, odorless, and tasteless. Radon becomes a risk indoors because as it continues to break down, it emits atomic particles that upon entering the lungs can alter the DNA and increase lung cancer risk. In fact, radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the nation and is classified as a “Class A” carcinogen according to EPA.
Radon is not known to cause asthma or any other type of respiratory distress. Radon can be tested and measured (in picocuries per liter (pCi/L) of air) and there are estimated risks to health from the exposure depending on the concentration. DHSS in conjunction with EPA recommends that if the concentration of radon is 4 pCi/L or greater, then remediation should be done to lower risks. Smoking in conjunction with radon exposure greatly increases the risk of cancer. See the risk chart. For more information about radon see “A Citizen’s Guide to Radon.”