About Radon Gas
Radon is a naturally occurring gas that seeps out of rocks and soil. Radon comes from uranium that has been in the ground since the time the earth was formed, and the rate of radon seepage is quite variable, partly because the amounts of uranium in the soil vary considerably. Radon flows naturally from the soil into outdoor air. Typically radon will quickly dissipate in outside air, but it can build up to dangerous concentrations when trapped indoors and unable to disperse. Some underground mines, especially uranium mines, contain much higher levels of radon.
Although radon is chemically inert and electrically uncharged, it is radioactive, which means that radon atoms in the air can spontaneously decay, or change to other atoms. When the resulting atoms, called radon progeny, are formed, they are electrically charged and can attach themselves to tiny dust particles in indoor air. These dust particles can easily be inhaled into the lung and can adhere to the lining of the lung. The deposited atoms decay, or change, by emitting a type of radiation called alpha radiation, which has the potential to damage cells in the lung. Alpha radiation’s can disrupt the DNA of these lung cells. This DNA damage has the potential to be one step in a chain of events that can lead to cancer. Alpha radiation travel only extremely short distances in the body. Thus, alpha radiation from the decay of radon progeny in the lungs cannot reach cells in any other organs, so it is likely that lung cancer is the only potentially important cancer hazard posed by radon.
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