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Radon (play /?re?d?n/ ray-don) is a chemical element with symbol Rn and atomic number 86. It is a radioactive, colorless, odorless, tasteless noble gas, occurring naturally as the decay product of uranium. It is one of the densest substances that remains a gas under normal conditions and is considered to be a health hazard due to its radioactivity.

 

Radon is responsible for the majority of the public exposure to ionizing radiation. It is often the single largest contributor to an individual's background radiation dose, and is the most variable from location to location. Radon gas from natural sources can accumulate in buildings, especially in confined areas such as attics, and basements. It can also be found in some spring waters and hot springs.

 

Epidemiological studies shows a clear link between breathing high concentrations of radon and incidence of lung cancer. Thus, radon is considered a significant contaminant that affects indoor air quality worldwide. According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, radon is the second most frequent cause of lung cancer, after cigarette smoking, causing 21,000 lung cancer deaths per year in the United States.

 

Depending on how houses are built and ventilated, radon may accumulate in basements and dwellings. Radon concentrations in the same location may differ by a factor of two over a period of 1 hour. Also, the concentration in one room of a building may be significantly different than the concentration in an adjoining room.

 

There are relatively simple tests for radon gas, but these tests are not commonly done, even in areas of known systematic hazards. Radon test kits are commercially available. The short-term radon test kits used for screening purposes are inexpensive, in many cases free. The kit includes a collector that the user hangs in the lowest livable floor of the house for 2 to 7 days. The user then sends the collector to a laboratory for analysis.

 

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References:

  1. Radon. (2011, May 26). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 16:53, May 30, 2011, from http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Radon&oldid=430993083
 

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