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Radon: The Invisible Health Risk

You can’t see, smell or feel Radon. A study done in the USA showed nearly every home had some level of radon in the air and some 10 percent of those homes had a higher level than that considered safe. Radon is a radioactive gas which breaks down into radioactive decay products. It becomes dangerous when these decayed products become lodged on a person’s lungs or respiratory tract that eventually causes lung cancer. For persons who smoke the risk is higher.

So where does it come from? Radon is a gas that originates in the soil, but travels through to be released in the air. Radon gas can enter the home in a variety of ways, including through dirt floors, cracks in concrete floors and walls, floor drains, tiny cracks or pores in hollow walls, and from the water supply. Estimates show that some 5 percent of a home’s radon level is linked to the water supply. Higher levels of radon are generally found in private well water supply than municipal water systems. When water is supplied by a municipal system, radon is generally released while the water is being treated in their system and when the water is held in the large storage areas where radon escapes into the open atmosphere. Water from private wells, especially when stored in underground or enclosed water tanks, a high concentration of radon can accumulate. Radon in home water is released when showering, washing dishes, or watering indoor plants for example. Levels of radon gas vary from area to area depending on the geographical location.

To reduce the risk, proper ventilation in the house is a key factor. Good ventilation should be assured specially in the newer homes as they tend to be energy efficient, tighter build, insulated and well sealed, leaving little room for the radon to escape. To reduce water borne radon for the individual is by installing a granular activated carbon filtration system. The activated carbon, which will reduce other contaminants in the water as well, dissolves and removes radon gas from the water.

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