Radon is a naturally occurring, radioactive gas. Radon is tasteless, colorless, and odorless, so it is undetectable by our senses. Radon is produced from the natural decay of uranium that is found in nearly all soils. Uranium breaks down to radium. As radium disintegrates it turns into radioactive gas...radon. As a gas, radon moves up through the soil and into the air you breathe.
Elevated levels of radon have been found in homes in every state. Radon is able to get into any type of building and build up to high levels. Homes that are new or old, drafty or air tight, big or small, and with or without a basement are all just as likely to have a radon problem.
There are no known immediate symptoms from radon, whereas health problems are often seen after long exposures to elevated levels of radon indoors. In the outdoor air it is harmlessly dispersed. When radon in the air is inhaled into the lungs the process of radioactive decay begins. This leads to the DNA of our sensitive lung tissue being damaged both physically and chemically. Scientists and researchers categorize radon as a Group A carcinogen meaning that there is no known acceptable level of exposure and that it has been demonstrated to cause cancer. Other Group A carcinogens include tobacco smoke and asbestos. Radon is the number one cause of lung cancer in non-smokers and the second leading cause of lung cancer (after tobacco) in smokers. Thankfully, this risk should be entirely preventable through awareness and testing.
For more information, visit Minnesota Department of Health - Radon Testing
Exposure in a home that has as little as 4 pCi/L, the EPA action level, is like receiving 200 chest x-rays per year. (AARST, 2004)