As many people are well aware, a significant silent threat in many homes or buildings that must be accounted for is radon. Radon gas is impossible for humans to smell or pick up with any of their other senses, but it can also create significant health risks and even fatalities in many cases, and those who have been exposed may be wondering how they should proceed.
At Absolute Radon Safety, we’re here to help. We offer a robust range of radon testing and radon mitigation services, ensuring you’re aware of radon in your home well ahead of time and can take the proper steps to combat it. If our team or any other radon testing specialists note high levels of radon in your home, should you be seeing a doctor right away? Here’s a primer on how radon can impact people, plus whether this sort of step is one you should take.
Radon Basics and Possible Health Impacts
Firstly, it’s helpful for this conversation if you understand exactly what radon is and what it can do to you. Radon is a naturally occurring, radioactive gas that is formed from the breakdown of uranium in the earth’s crust. It very well may seep into your home or building through cracks, openings, and other spaces in the foundation and floors, but because it cannot be detected by scent or sight, it’s wise to have a radon test in place.
If you or anyone else breathes in radon, this gas can create free radicals that damage the DNA of cells, which can then lead to cancerous mutations over time. The risk of developing lung cancer from exposure to radon is rather significant, as you may be unable to taste, smell, or see the radon in your home. It’s important to keep in mind that lung cancer is only one of many possible health consequences from breathing in radon gas; other complications include leukemia as well as esophageal, stomach and pancreatic cancers.
Why Radon Testing is Vital
If you’re concerned about the radon levels in your home, it’s important to have a test done as soon as possible. Radon testing is the only way to know for sure if you and your family are at risk, and the sooner you know, the sooner you can take steps to mitigate the gas. Mitigation may include installing a ventilation system or other methods to reduce the amount of radon in your home.
It’s also important to keep in mind that radon levels can change over time; even if your home tests below the EPA’s action level of 4 pCi/L, this does not mean that it is safe. You should revisit your test results every few years and update your mitigation plan as necessary.
Should You See a Doctor?
If tests of your home reveal that you have high radon levels, and especially if you’ve been in the space for a long period of time and believe you’ve been consistently breathing in radon, there’s a temptation to go to the doctor. In certain cases this will be the prudent move, but it’s also important to remember some basic realities here.
The first such reality: There is no medical test or process that can 100% confirm if radon exposure is the source of your health problem, or even whether you’ve been exposed to high levels of radon at all. Your doctor can usually make a diagnosis based on symptoms and physical exam, but they won’t be able to definitively say what has caused them — there’s no blood test or biopsy that says “radon gas” beyond all doubt.
Before we move you too far in the direction of doing nothing after radon exposure, though, it’s important to also look at the flip side. As we’ve noted here, the key risk from radon exposure is lung cancer — and if you believe you are showing any of the signs or symptoms of lung cancer, see your doctor right away.
Symptoms of lung cancer caused by radon are similar to those of any form of lung cancer, and include:
- Shortness of breath
- Chest pain
- Unexplained weight loss
These are all signs that something is not right in your lungs, and you need to get a diagnosis. It’s important to note though that the risk of lung cancer increases with even low levels of radon exposure; according to recent studies, any level above 4 pCi/L can be potentially hazardous.
Ultimately, the best thing you can do if you believe radon exposure is a concern for you and your family is to get tested for radon. Only by knowing the true level of radioactivity in your environment can you make well-informed decisions about how to proceed. If a test reveals high levels of radon, you can then take steps to mitigate the risk and protect your family’s health.
If you have any questions or concerns about radon testing or mitigation in your home, be sure to speak with a qualified professional who can address your needs. While there is no treatment for lung cancer caused by radon exposure, as soon as it is detected, your doctor can help you determine the best course of action for your health.
Ultimately, it’s important to keep in mind that radon is a silent threat — but one which should be taken very seriously, regardless of whether or not you have any symptoms. For more on how to test for and mitigate any exposure you’ve had, or to learn about our radon mitigation systems for any home, speak to our team at Absolute Radon Safety today.