4 Major Health Problems That Radon Exposure Could Cause

4 Major Health Problems That Radon Exposure Could Cause

Radon is an odorless gas that is also colorless and invisible to the human eye. This radioactive gas, which is a byproduct of radium, thorium, and uranium, is emitted from the earth and can also come from water.

Inhaling small amounts of this gas is generally harmless, but prolonged radon exposure can cause a variety of health problems for some people. Radon can be especially dangerous if large amounts of it get into buildings through cracks in foundations and wells that store well water. Prolonged radon exposure has been linked to the following health problems.

1. Lung Cancer

Radon can damage cells in the lungs if large amounts of the gas are inhaled and cause these cells to mutate and multiply uncontrollably. This process often results in the development of lung cancer. Approximately 3% to 14% of lung cancer cases worldwide are linked to radon exposure, and the cancer often takes years to develop after lung cells have been damaged from radon.

Smokers have an increased risk of developing lung cancer if they also inhale a lot of radon regularly. People who work in mines may also have a greater chance of developing lung cancer if ventilators and other safety devices aren’t being used on the job.

2. Emphysema

When air sacs in the lungs get damaged, a condition known as emphysema can occur. Emphysema often disrupts the delivery of oxygen to the bloodstream and causes shortness of breath and feelings of general weakness. Damaged air sacs also tend to trap more air instead of allowing newer, fresher air to fill the lungs, and this can further exacerbate the effects of emphysema.

Studies have shown a possible link between emphysema and prolonged radon exposure. As with lung cancer, the chances of getting emphysema may increase even more for people who also smoke.

3. Pulmonary Fibrosis

This lung disease results from scars inside the lungs that cause the lung tissue to become denser. Breathing difficulties can arise as the lung tissue becomes thicker and prevents the lungs from fully expanding when inhaling.

The same studies that have found a link between emphysema and radon have also shown evidence of a relationship between pulmonary fibrosis and high radon amounts. To reduce the chances of developing any of these lung conditions, it’s advisable to hire radon mitigation specialists if a radon test shows high levels of the gas in a building.

4. Childhood Leukemia

Children who are exposed regularly to radon may be at greater risk of getting childhood leukemia. This disease occurs when blood cells multiply uncontrollably and is usually classified as acute (fast-growing) or chronic (slow-growing).

Studies have been conducted over the years to try to determine if radon exposure can cause childhood leukemia, and more recent studies have shown a relationship between the gas and the disease. A higher incidence of childhood leukemia was found in children who lived in Europe, where radon exposure tends to be greater.

Radon exposure shouldn’t be ignored and should be monitored carefully to decrease the chances of certain health problems. Fortunately, these medical conditions may be avoided entirely if the proper measures are taken to prevent excessive radon exposure.