WHAT IS RADON?
What is radon gas anyway? Radon gas is a decay
product of uranium.
Uranium is a naturally occurring element found on planet Earth.
Typically it is found deep underground in the bedrock and can run in
"veins". Uranium, like most radioactive elements, goes through a
decay process where it breaks down over time and gives off, or
becomes something else that is also radioactive. In the case of
uranium it decays into another element called radium. Radium also
decays and it breaks down into RADON GAS. Radon, because it is a
gas, moves easily through cracks in the earth and can travel
underground with other soil gases and it can also find its way into
underground water, springs etc. That's how it gets in your well
water. As it moves underground it works its way to the surface of
the earth and naturally vents itself into the atmosphere.
When you build a house on top of the earth, a foundation is dug and a concrete floor is poured. The radon that was venting itself out of the earth in that particular spot, is still trying to do so, only now it gets caught under the foundation and builds up in pressure until it forces its way into the basement through cracks, gaps in the concrete floor/wall joint sumps, and any other opening in the concrete to the earth below. Once it's in the house, it attaches itself to dust particles and travels around your house where you breath it in. Once it is in your lungs, radon like the other radioactive elements, breaks down again and gives off what is known as radon daughters. These radon daughters give off a small burst of energy when they are born and that energy can damage cells in the lungs which can in turn, become a cancerous cell.
So we can see why it is something that you would want to reduce in your home and the lower the amount, the less of everything else that occurs. So there it is, a quick not too scientific explanation of radon, next installment, testing for it.
Radon in the well water creates the same problems as radon in the air. Waterborne radon is released into the air at its point of use which is usually on the living floor. Once its released into the air you breath it in and the results are the same as airborne radon.
There are some concerns about drinking well water with elevated radon levels causing stomach cancer, but the results seem to be inconclusive about the amount of water and radon is required, breathing it in is the major concern. Remember, radon gas causes over 22,000 deaths a year making it the leading cause of lung cancer in non smokers and the 2nd leading cause overall.