Category: Radon News

symptoms radon gas exposure

Signs and Symptoms of Radon Gas Exposure

There are several simple factors that make radon gas dangerous, and one of these is the difficulty in identifying it. Radon gas is odorless, tasteless and otherwise virtually impossible to detect with normal human senses, making it more troublesome than some other home risks — a key way of identifying it, in fact, is typically due to physical symptoms experienced as a result of radon exposure (in cases where testing has not been done, that is).

At Absolute Radon Safety, we’re here to offer quality radon testing services that allow you to detect radon in your home well before any major physical symptoms of exposure are present. However, if testing has not been done, you might also notice the presence of radon gas based on physical symptoms you or others in your home experience. Here’s a rundown of some of these symptoms and what they might be telling you.

Possible Radon Entry Points

Before we get to the symptoms, it’s important to understand a little more about how radon enters your home in the first place. Radon gas is produced as a result of the natural radioactive decay of uranium found in rocks and soil — it typically enters homes through cracks in walls or foundations, gaps around service pipes, or any other openings that exist between the home’s foundation and the outside air.

Radon is particularly troublesome because it can build up to high concentrations indoors, where it becomes a serious health hazard. In fact, the EPA estimates that radon gas is responsible for 21,000 lung cancer deaths every year in the United States — that’s more than deaths caused by car accidents or alcohol abuse!

Lung Cancer Connection

As we just noted, radon has a direct link to lung cancer, and is responsible for tens of thousands of deaths here each year. And unfortunately, this connection is also present in terms of the common symptoms of radon exposure — many of which will mimic the symptoms that come with lung cancer.

For this reason, most of the symptoms we go over in the rest of this blog will have crossover with those that come with lung cancer.

Persistent Cough and Hoarseness

One of the first and most common symptoms you might experience as a result of radon exposure is a persistent cough that doesn’t seem to go away, no matter what you do. This cough might also be accompanied by hoarseness, and can become more frequent over time as radon exposure continues.

These symptoms are often mistaken for those of a cold or other common illness, but if they persist for weeks or longer without any sign of abating, it could be an indication that radon exposure is to blame.

Wheezing and Shortness of Breath

Radon exposure can also cause wheezing and shortness of breath, as the gas can irritate your lungs and make it difficult to breathe properly. These symptoms might be mild at first, but can become more severe over time as radon exposure continues.

If you experience wheezing or shortness of breath and also have a history of smoking, it’s particularly important to get tested for radon exposure, as your risk of lung cancer will be much higher.

Coughing Up Blood

As we progress into more serious symptoms, coughing up blood is one that should be cause for major concern. If you’re coughing up blood at all, it’s important to see a doctor immediately, but if you’ve been exposed to high levels of radon gas, this could be a sign that the exposure has damaged your lungs.

It’s also possible to experience this symptom without any prior history of smoking, which is another reason why radon testing is so important.

Lung Infections

Radon exposure can also lead to a buildup of fluid in the lungs, which can eventually lead to lung infections. These infections might be accompanied by other symptoms like fever, chest pain, and difficulty breathing.

Pneumonia is one of the most common infections associated with radon exposure, but it’s also possible to develop more serious infections like tuberculosis. If you experience any symptoms of a lung infection, it’s important to see a doctor as soon as possible.

Another common such infection is bronchitis, which is an inflammation of the bronchial tubes. Bronchitis can cause a host of other symptoms like coughing, chest pain, and shortness of breath.

Loss of Appetite

In many cases, people who are suffering from radon exposure will also experience a loss of appetite. This can lead to weight loss, as well as fatigue and weakness. If you’re experiencing a loss of appetite and any of the other symptoms on this list, it’s important to get tested for radon exposure.

Fatigue and Weakness

As we just noted, a loss of appetite can lead to fatigue and weakness, but these symptoms can also be caused by radon exposure itself. If you’re feeling tired all the time, even after getting a full night’s sleep, it could be an indication that you’re being exposed to high levels of radon gas.

Weight Loss

If you’re experiencing weight loss with no other simple explanation, it could be a sign that you’re being exposed to radon gas. This is particularly true if you’re also experiencing other symptoms like fatigue, weakness, and a loss of appetite.

For more on the symptoms that are often caused by radon exposure, or to learn about any of our radon testing or radon mitigation solutions, speak to our team at Absolute Radon Safety today.

opening windows impact radon

If you’ve recently tested your home for the presence of radon gas and have found unsafe levels of it in your structure, you’ll naturally be looking for every possible solution to remedy this problem. The primary such solution will be a radon mitigation system, but some homeowners wonder about other nuanced efforts they can make in this area — and one common such area is the opening of various windows to let radon out.

At Absolute Radon Safety, we’re happy to provide quality radon testing and radon mitigation services to clients in Longmont and several other areas of Colorado. What impact can opening windows have on your home’s radon levels, and is said impact enough to make this a worthwhile practice? Here’s a primer on this area.

Why is Radon a Risk?

Before we move any further, let’s remind ourselves why radon is such a risk in the first place. Radon is a tasteless, odorless, and colorless gas that can cause lung cancer. It’s estimated to be the second-leading cause of this disease in the United States, killing approximately 21,000 people annually.

Radon is dangerous for several reasons, most notably due to its radioactivity. The presence of radon in your home is the result of natural uranium decay, and when you breathe in air that contains it, this gas can damage the DNA in your cells — and over time, this increased cell damage can lead to lung cancer.

Of course, if you live in an area with naturally high radon levels (such as Colorado), or if you have a home that’s particularly susceptible to radon infiltration (such as a home with cracks in its foundation), your risks will be higher.

Opening Windows Works — To an Extent

If you’re looking to aid in the removal of radon from your home once it’s been discovered, opening your windows for ventilation can be effective — but only in a moderate sense. It’s absolutely true that ventilation is a major part of the EPA’s recommended approach to mitigating high radon levels in a home, but opening windows is a relatively crude format for this.

Now, if you’re opening several windows in the area impacted by radon, there’s a chance of this having a non-trivial impact. Radon is, after all, a gas — and as such, it will rise. So if you have high levels of radon near the floor and open a window to let this gas out, there’s a non-zero chance that you’ll be able to somewhat mitigate your risk in this way.

However, there are very few cases of actual radon risk that can be fully mitigated in this manner. Simply put, if you’re dealing with high levels of radon in your home, the best way to mitigate this is going to be through the placement of a radon mitigation system.

Limitations of Opening Windows

Again, it’s not that opening windows is bad for your radon levels — it’s just that it’s a very limited solution, for several reasons.

For one thing, as we noted, radon is a gas — and as such, it will rise. So if you open a window at floor level in the hopes of letting this gas out, what you’ll actually end up doing is circulating it through the rest of your home. In other words, you might be able to let some radon out this way — but you’ll also be increasing your risk in other areas of the house.

Additionally, it’s important to remember that windows are designed to keep air in, not let it out. So while you might be able to open a window and let some radon escape this way, you’ll also be letting other gases and particles into your home in the process. This might not seem like a big deal, but it can actually compound your radon risk — and in some cases, increase your risks of other illnesses, as well.

Finally, it’s worth noting that opening windows for ventilation can actually be counterproductive in some cases. If you live in an area with high humidity, for example, opening your windows is only going to increase the moisture content of your indoor air — and as we’ll discuss in a moment, this can actually lead to increased radon risks.

So if you’re looking to mitigate your home’s radon risk, it’s important to remember that opening windows is only a limited solution — and in some cases, it can actually make your risks worse.

Proper Radon Mitigation

Even if you’ve determined that opening windows is helping to mitigate your home’s radon risk, it’s important to remember that this is only a temporary solution. The best way to reduce your risks in the long term is to install a radon mitigation system — and for this need, it’s always best to consult with a professional.

Radon mitigation systems work by drawing air from your home and venting it to the outside, where the radon gas can dissipate harmlessly. These systems are highly effective, and in most cases, they’re also relatively affordable — so if you’re concerned about radon in your home, they’re definitely worth considering. If you’re not sure where to start, the EPA’s website is a great resource for finding qualified radon mitigation professionals in your area.

For more on the theme of opening windows to help with radon levels, or to learn about any of our radon testing or mitigation services in Longmont or other parts of Colorado, speak to our team at Absolute Radon Safety today.

common questions radon gas

As your go-to radon testing and mitigation specialists in Longmont and other parts of Colorado, our team at Absolute Radon Safety often runs into a familiar situation: Our clients don’t really understand what they’re dealing with if they’ve run into high radon levels. Not to worry — we’re here to help with this as well as all your radon mitigation needs.

You have questions — we have answers! Here are some of the most common queries we get about radon gas, plus the answers to help you understand why this gas is harmful, how it’s detected, and how to get rid of it.

What is Radon Gas? Where Does it Originate From?

Many people are unaware of exactly what radon gas is. Radon is a natural, colorless, and odorless gas that’s produced by the breakdown of uranium in rocks and soil. Outdoors, radon is diluted and isn’t harmful. The problem arises when this gas accumulates indoors in high concentrations — and that’s where it can pose a serious health risk.

Radon can be present in both solid and liquid form, and it can enter your home in a few different ways:

  • Through cracks and openings in the foundation
  • Through gaps around service pipes
  • Through well water
  • Through building materials that contain radon

It’s most commonly found in low areas like basements and crawl spaces.

What Are Some Radon Exposure Signs?

As we noted above, radon can be extremely dangerous when it’s exposed to humans or animals for long periods of time. For this reason, being able to spot some of the most common symptoms of exposure is crucial. Here are a few to keep an eye out for:

  • Breathing problems
  • Frequent headaches
  • Persistent coughing
  • Wheezing and shortness of breath
  • Lung infections

Radon poisoning can also lead to lung cancer, so it’s important to get tested if you think you may have been exposed. Many of the basic symptoms of radon exposure also mimic those of lung cancer.

Some will naturally dismiss these symptoms as a common cold or the flu, but if you experience any of them frequently or they don’t seem to go away, it’s important to get tested for radon as soon as possible.

How Deadly is Radon?

Simply put, radon is likely far more deadly than you were aware of if you didn’t know much about it before reading. Radon has radioactive particles in it that can easily be trapped by the lungs, and issues ranging from lung cancer to others may follow. The EPA has estimated that as many as 20,000 lung cancer deaths per year in the U.S. can be linked back to radon exposure.

This makes radon the second-largest individual cause of lung cancer deaths, trailing only cigarette smoking — which, in addition, is a risk factor that greatly increases your chances of suffering from lung cancer if you’re exposed to high levels of radon.

Fortunately, there are ways to mitigate the risk: having your home professionally tested for radon and taking the necessary steps to remove it if need be.

How Does Radon Enter the Home?

As we mentioned earlier, radon forms in the ground. It can move through dirt, rocks, air, water, and even concrete to make its way into your home. Once inside, radon can become trapped and can quickly build up to high levels.

Some of the most common areas for radon entry include cracks, foundation problems, floor joints, gaps around service pipes, and well water. It’s important to test your home for radon regularly to ensure that the levels are safe.

What is a Safe Level of Radon?

To be clear, the only truly safe level of radon in your home is zero. Even tiny amounts of radon can pose risks here.

That said, there are some general thresholds that are typically aimed for when it comes to radon mitigation. For starters, any home or building with radon levels at or above 4.0 pCi/L should have some sort of mitigation system installed.

And generally, mitigation systems for these homes or buildings will aim to reduce the levels of radon to no higher than 2.0 pCi/L. It may be possible to reduce levels even lower than this, but 2.0 pCi/L is typically considered an acceptable level in most cases.

If you have questions about a specific level of radon in your home or building, the best thing to do is to speak with a professional who can help assess the situation and make recommendations accordingly.

What Are Some Common Radon Testing Methods?

Generally speaking, there are two standard methods for testing a home or building for radon:

  • Short-term tests: These tests are designed to bring results in as little as 48 hours and as many as 90 days. They’re designed using charcoal, which is able to absorb radon from the air. The most common type of short-term test is a canister test, which is typically left in the home for two to 90 days.
  • Long-term tests: These tests are designed to bring results in as little as one year but may take up to two years. They use alpha track detectors, which can measure long-term exposure to radon. These tests are generally considered more reliable than short-term tests but may not be as practical in some situations.

Which test is right for you will depend on a variety of factors, so it’s important to speak with a professional about your specific needs before making a decision.

For more on the common questions we get about radon gas, or to learn about any of our radon testing or radon mitigation services in Longmont or other parts of Colorado, speak to the team at Absolute Radon Safety today.

radon smoking lung cancer risk

In part one of this two-part blog series, we went over some basics on how radon exposure impacts your risk of lung cancer. Radon exposure is one of several major risk factors for lung cancer, and it becomes even riskier if the person exposed to high quantities of radon is also a smoker.

At Absolute Radon Safety, we’re proud to offer a variety of radon testing and radon mitigation services to clients in Boulder, Denver and surrounding areas, ensuring that you’re not exposed to radon-related risks in any way. While part one of our series went over the general risks of lung cancer and how radon exposure impacts these, today’s part two will dig into how smoking further complicates this puzzle, especially for those who already have high radon exposure levels.

General Risks of Smoking and Lung Cancer

As many are already well aware, smoking is the single leading cause of lung cancer and other serious respiratory illnesses. The carcinogens in cigarette smoke damage the cilia and mucus lining of the bronchi and lungs, leading to a condition known as obstructive airway disease. As this condition worsens, the risk of developing lung cancer increases exponentially.

Smoking causes over 150,000 cancer-related deaths in the US each year, per the American Cancer Society.

Secondhand Smoke and Lung Cancer

In addition to those who smoke themselves, those who are exposed to secondhand smoke also face increased risks. Secondhand smoke is the combination of both sidestream and mainstream smoke, which typically contains many poisonous carcinogens that can lead to an increased risk for lung cancer.

Secondhand smoke exposure causes nearly 34,000 deaths each year in the US per the American Cancer Society. It can also impact children, causing serious respiratory problems including bronchitis, pneumonia, asthma and increased risk of ear infections.

Risks of Lung Cancer Among Smokers With High Radon Exposure

And as you may have guessed if you’ve read to this point, combining the two major risk factors we’ve gone over here can result in serious risks of developing lung cancer. In fact, research has shown that among those exposed to over 20 pCi/L of radon who smoke, over 25% will develop lung cancer — that’s an incredibly high risk!

What’s even more alarming about this research is that if the individual exposed to radon and cigarettes is not a smoker, their risk of developing lung cancer drops considerably. Unfortunately, for those already smoking, it seems that tobacco use “overwhelms” radon-related health risks and greatly increases them.

As we mentioned in part one of our series, unfortunately, the only way to truly know if you’ve been exposed to substantial quantities of radon is by taking advantage of one or more radon testing services. These tests can be used both for homes and businesses, with results provided immediately.

For more on the risks of radon and lung cancer, especially if you’re a smoker, or for information on any of our radon testing and mitigation services to help you avoid these risks, speak to the pros at Absolute Radon Safety today.

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