Definition

What is radon exposure and poisoning?

Radon is a naturally occurring radioactive gas. It’s produced when uranium, thorium, and radium break down in soil, rock, and water. It’s then released into the air. Radon is odorless, tasteless, and invisible. Radon can accumulate in some places where ventilation is inadequate, such as in an underground mine. It can also build up inside buildings. Long-term exposure to high levels of radon can be dangerous to your health.

How common is radon exposure and poisoning?

About one in every 15 homes is thought to have high levels of radon. The highest concentration of radon tends to be found in the basement or on the first floor. Please discuss with your doctor for further information.

Symptoms

What are the symptoms of radon exposure and poisoning?

Radon is all around us. In fact, you’re probably breathing it in every day, even if it’s at a low level. However, you can’t tell if you’re breathing it in at a high level. The danger in radon exposure is that you can’t see it, taste it, or smell it. And you won’t have any symptoms to alert you.

Radon poisoning symptoms resemble those of lung cancer: a persistent cough that doesn’t get better, difficulty breathing, chest pains, the coughing up of blood, wheezing, hoarseness and recurring respiratory infections such as pneumonia or bronchitis.

There may be some symptoms not listed above. If you have any concerns about a symptom, please consult your doctor.

When should I see my doctor?

If you have any signs or symptoms listed above or have any questions, please consult with your doctor. Everyone’s body acts differently. It is always best to discuss with your doctor what is best for your situation.

Causes

What causes radon exposure and poisoning?

You’re exposed to radon when you breathe it in. High amounts of radon may be found in the workplace, a school, or any building. You spend the most time in your home, so that’s where radon exposure is most likely.

Radon can come up through the ground and into your home through cracks in the foundation. Once it’s through the cracks, it can get trapped inside, where it builds up. It can also get into your home through well water. Rarely, building materials have been found to release radon into buildings.

Radon exposure can happen in any type of home, whether it has a basement, a crawl space, or is built on a slab. But it’s more likely to accumulate in homes that are:

  • Very well insulated
  • Tightly sealed
  • Located where the soil contains a lot of uranium, thorium, and radium

Risk factors

What increases my risk for radon exposure and poisoning?

Please discuss with your doctor for further information.

Diagnosis & treatment

The information provided is not a substitute for any medical advice. ALWAYS consult with your doctor for more information.

How is radon exposure and poisoning diagnosed?

There aren’t any specific medical tests that can assess your exposure to radon gas. That’s why it’s important to be aware of the signs and symptoms of lung cancer, even if you don’t smoke.

How is radon exposure and poisoning treated?

Unfortunately there is no therapy currently available to treat radon poisoning itself. When a person is suspected of having radon poisoning, it is important to limit further exposure to radon as much as possible to prevent further lung damage. All potential sources of radon should be tested, especially the air inside the person’s home. Measures to reduce radon from these sources should be performed if necessary. It is also important to try to reduce the risk of developing lung cancer, which is the only known health problem caused by radon poisoning. As cigarette smoking significantly increases the risk of radon-induced lung cancer, stopping smoking is a high priority.

Lifestyle changes & home remedies

What are some lifestyle changes or home remedies that can help me manage radon exposure and poisoning?

The following lifestyles and home remedies might help you avoid radon exposure and poisoning:

  • Seal and caulk foundation cracks and openings to help reduce the amount of radon that can enter.
  • Install a soil suction radon reduction system, also known as vent pipe and fan system. A three- or four-inch pipe pulls radon from underneath the house and vents it outside. This keeps it from accumulating inside your home.
  • Create a gas-permeable layer beneath the slab or flooring. This allows radon to move under your house, but it only works if you have a basement or slab foundation. It’s not for homes with a crawl space.
  • Install plastic sheeting. The sheeting goes on top of the gas-permeable layer under the slab to prevent radon from entering your home. If you have a crawl space, the sheeting goes over the crawl space floor.

If you have any questions, please consult with your doctor to better understand the best solution for you.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Sources

Review Date: November 1, 2017 | Last Modified: November 1, 2017

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