Risk of Radon Exposure
The Risk of Living with Radon
Radon gas decays and turns into radioactive particles that can get trapped in your lungs when you breathe. As the particles break down further, they release small bursts of energy. This can damage your lung tissue and can lead to lung cancer over the course of your lifetime. Not everyone who is exposed to elevated levels of radon will develop lung cancer, but the amount of time between exposure and the onset of the disease can be many years.
According to the National Safety Council, an estimated 20,000 lung cancer deaths each year are related to radon. In fact, people who breathe in radioactive particles, swallow water with high radon levels or are exposed to radon for a long period of time are susceptible to lung damage and lung cancer. Smokers who are exposed to elevated levels of radon gas have a 10 times higher risk of developing lung cancer according to the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control.
Unlike other environmental pollutants, there is uncertainty about the magnitude of radon heath risks; though, we do know more about radon risks than risks from most other cancer-causing substances. We know this is because radon risk estimates are based on studies of cancer in humans (in underground miners).
Combined with smoking, radon is an especially serious health risk. You can stop smoking and lower your radon level to reduce your risk of lung cancer.
Also children have been reported to have a greater risk that adults of certain types of cancer from radiation, but currently there is no conclusive data on whether children are at a greater risk than adults from radon exposure.