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Signs of Radon Gas Poisoning

by
author image Jill Dombrauckas, Ph.D.
Jill Dombrauckas currently writes for a biotech company in San Diego. Her work is published in scientific journals such as Biochemistry and medical websites such as Genetic Engineering News and Medical News Today. She received her bachelor's degree from the University of Dayton and Ph.D. in medicinal chemistry from the University of Illinois at Chicago.
Signs of Radon Gas Poisoning
Radon is hazardous to your health. Photo Credit symbole nucléaire... image by dead_account from <a href="http://www.fotolia.com">Fotolia.com</a>

Radon exposure is highly toxic and dangerous to your health. In fact, the U.S. Surgeon General issued a national health advisory regarding radon exposure in 2005. Radon is a colorless and odorless gas, which makes it extremely difficult to detect. You should be proactive and learn about the best ways to identify the risk of radon exposure to prevent the negative consequences of radon poisoning.

Building Monitors

No amount of radon exposure is safe. Furthermore, it is nearly impossible to identify the presence of radon without a monitoring device. Since radon is present everywhere indoors, outdoors, etc., the EPA had to set a concentration threshold. The EPA has established radon levels between 2 pico Curies per Liter, or pCi/L, and 4 pCi/L to be the point to fix your home or building to eliminate radon contamination. Devices are sold that can be placed in your home to continuously monitor radon levels, or you can have an inspector measure the levels on a regular basis. The Radon Center recommends individuals test all new homes before they purchase them, and continually monitor the levels.

Physical Symptoms

Radon is a radioactive element produced from decaying uranium that can cause health consequences. It is a known carcinogen because ionizing radiation can modify DNA and cause mutations and other harmful effects. Since radon is an odorless gas, most of these harmful effects are typically observed in the lungs. According to the the Centers for Disease Control, there are no known physical signs or symptoms specific to radon poisoning, which makes it difficult to identify. The Radon Center states, however, that lung problems such as persistent cough, wheezing, heavy breathing, and lung infections could result from radon exposure. These are also early signs of lung cancer. Please tell your physician if you experience any of these symptoms to ensure you undergo a more thorough diagnostic evaluation.

Lung Cancer

Signs of Radon Gas Poisoning
Radon exposure increases lung cancer risk. Photo Credit thorax x-ray of the lungs image by JoLin from Fotolia.com

The CDC has stated that radon exposure is the second-leading cause of lung cancer behind smoking. According to the EPA, however, even if you never smoked cigarettes but were exposed to the level of radon of 4 pCi/L, the risk of you developing lung cancer is similar to your risk of dying in a car accident. This risk level is equivalent to seven out of 1,000 people who would develop lung cancer based on their radon exposure. If you are a current or former smoker with radon exposure, your risk of developing lung cancer is much higher. If there is a lung cancer cluster in your area, perhaps it is a sign of high radon levels in public buildings. Protect your lungs and your health by becoming aware of the risks of radon in your home and workplace.

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