Radon is a colorless, odorless and tasteless radioactive gas that is mainly produced due to the decomposition and radioactive decaying of other elements such as radium, polonium, and uranium etc. It is a part of our atmosphere and is present in air as well as in the water bodies. But the concentration of naturally occurring radon is so minute that one barely feels its presence and it does not do any harm. However, it becomes a severe and extremely serious issue when this concentration of radon increases a certain level. Therefore one should always be concerned about the high radon levels.
Sources of radon:
Radon is a naturally occurring element which means that it cannot be created by artificial means. It is generally produced by the radioactive decay of highly radioactive elements. Since most of the radioactive elements are present deep underneath the surface of the earth, therefore naturally there are high radon levels in the earth’s core.
The radon produced underneath the surface of the earth is highly penetrating in nature and moves down to dissolve in the water bodies that are present deep underneath the earth. When water from these sources is extracted for usage, the radon dissolved in the water also makes its way on the surface of the earth. Another artificial means of radon production is the careless disposal of radioactive waste. When radioactive waste is not disposed of by following the set protocol then the radioactive elements in the waste may remain active and generate radon.
Hazards of Radon:
Radon is a deadly carcinogen. It can make its way inside the human body through one of the following two ways:
- Through the Mouth: radon can enter the human body through the mouth when radon poisoned water is consumed.
- Through the Nasal Cavity: when a person is exposed and breathes in radon contaminated air for a very long time period the radon makes its way into the lungs.
Once the high radon levels make their way into the human body, the radon particles continue to undergo decomposition. As a result of this decomposition two things are produced:
- Radon Daughter Elements
- Radiation releasing energy
The release of energy tends to damage the tissues of the internal organs and leaves them at a high risk of developing tumors. These tumors enlarge and cause cancerous masses in the long-term. Radon may be a cause of lung cancer, esophageal cancer, blood cancer and even bone cancer.
Tests for Radon Detection:
Due to its discrete properties, it is extremely difficult to detect radon without performing the radon detection test. There are two main types of radon detection tests i.e.:
- Short-term radon detection tests
- Long-term radon detection tests
Moreover, the tests for the detection of radon in water and in the air are different as well. Although the experts and researchers have still not agreed on any safe or acceptable level of radon which is not harmful, yet there is a general convention that the level of radon in the air should be less than 4 picocuries per liter and the level of radon in water must be under 4000 picocuries per liter.