Why is radon important?

Radon is the number one cause of lung cancer amongst non-smokers¹.

Approximately 21,000 people die from radon-related lung cancer every year in the United States alone².

Due to radon’s fluctuating nature, long term, daily monitoring is necessary. If you discover your home has high levels, contact your local EPA or WHO for more information.

1American Cancer Society
2US Environmental Protection Agency

Where does radon come from?

The rocks and soil beneath our homes contain traces of uranium. Over time, the uranium breaks down and forms other elements. This is called radioactive decay. Radon is one link in the decay chain of uranium. When radon gas decays, it emits radioactive radiation in the form of an alpha particle.

Radon Nucleus and Alpha Particle Emission
Breakdown of Uranium to Radon Gas Timeline

Radiation & DNA

When an alpha particle hits our DNA it can cause damage to a cell´s blueprint. Cells constantly replicate themselves, but with a broken blueprint the replication process can become cancerous.

Wave-particle duality
According to particle physics, any form of radiation can behave as both a particle and as a wave depending on how you observe it. That is why an alpha particle is the same as alpha radiation.

DNA
All our cells contain DNA, which acts as an instruction manual or blueprint for cells on how to create copies of themselves.

DNA hit by alpha particle

Radioactive radiation

Radioactive radiation takes the form of alpha, beta, gamma, x-ray, and neutron radiation, which are able to penetrate different substances.

External skin: Alpha particles do not penetrate external skin because it consists of dead skin cells.

Internal tissue: Ingesting or inhaling alpha- particles is a health concern because living cells are not able to stop the radiation.

Radioactive penetration of different materials

Healthy lungs

Lungs have especially sensitive tissue made of living cells that allows oxygen molecules to pass from the air we breathe into our bloodstream. When alpha- emitting substances like radon are inhaled, they can damage local cell DNA.

DNA repair system
Our cells have systems in place to either repair DNA or stop itself from replicating. The system works well enough to keep us safe when experiencing low levels of radiation, such as the average outdoor radon level. 

Radon in buildings

Modern buildings are often well insulated and windows are usually kept closed. This can allow radon to build up to levels where our DNA repair system is no longer able to keep all cells healthy.

How does radon enter a building?
Radon rises and can enter a home or workplace through the hot water tank, sink, shower, and microscopic cracks in a building´s foundation.

Radon geography

Local variations
The local variations in radon levels are often significant. Two homes right next to each other can have completely different radon levels. That is why no region is exempt from radon measurements.

Industrialized world
Well-built homes in industrialized nations are often more prone to excess radon levels due to their insulation.

On a boat?
Radon levels at sea are usually quite low.

Floors

Radon usually builds up in the lowest levels of a building. However, there are some buildings that have a higher radon level in the top floors. This can be due to artificial ventilation, natural updraft, or building materials used. 

Measuring all floors can help us make healthier decisions. In most cases, it is better for our health to spend more of our time on floors with lower radon levels.

Drawing of a skyscraper

Benefits of reducing radon exposure

*Numbers are a joint estimate by the World Health Organization based on 3 separate studies (WHO Radon Handbook, page 12)

health benefits to reducing radon levels

A healthy lifestyle

Low radon levels lead to a reduced risk of lung cancer, allowing us to live long and prosperous lives. Maintaining low radon levels plays an important part in living a healthy lifestyle.

How to measure radon

1. Receive your radon detector and insert the batteries.

2. Place the device at breathing height.

3. Read your numbers on the display. The first indication of your radon level will appear within 24 hours. The longer you measure, the more accurate your readings.

what is radon radon detector image

4. Repeat in different rooms and buildings.

5. Lend to friends and family and keep track of your levels.

Radon levels change often, but it is the long-term average radon level that matters to our health. Summer months typically have the lowest radon levels.

What do my radon levels mean?

0 – 49 Bq/m³: No action needed
49 – 99 Bq/m³: Experiment with ventilation and sealing cracks to reduce levels
100 – 299 Bq/m³: Keep measuring. If levels are maintained for more than 3 months, contact a professional radon mitigator
300 Bq/m³ and up: Keep measuring. If levels are maintained for more than 1 month, contact a professional radon mitigator

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Choose your region / country

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Global

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USA

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Norway

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Germany

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Italy

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UK

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France

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Spain