Many people today would like to ignore, not pay attention to, or disavow science for a variety of reasons. One place it is foolish to do so is on the topic of radon gas and its potential ties to cancer. The facts and data have long been in, and radon gas does and is a leading contributor to the incidences of lung cancer in the United States.
Radon gas decays over time, and more so under certain weather and temperature conditions. As it decays it gives off tiny radioactive particles, which easily mix with the air we breathe. In normal concentration levels of outside air, radon gas is not a concern as the levels are too low to cause problems, but when concentrated and inhaled over a period of time, radon can and does cause significant increases in the rates of lung cancer. If you smoke it is much worse. Over 21,000 people a year die from lung cancer in the U.S., and radon gas is the second leading cause of lung cancer deaths in this country.
The continuous, persistent exposure to radon gas is the issue leading to potential lung cancer from exposure to the radiation byproduct of radon gas. It takes a number of years, usually somewhere between 5 and 15 for lung cancer to appear at a stage that is recognizable. It is known that about 75% of the radioactive particles eventually turn into lead particles in the human body, another toxic substance but not as problematic as radon gas. The remaining percentage does not go away, though. It stays resident and creates alpha particles that continue to alter cell structure. Those particles are the ones that lead to the mutation of cells and the cells becoming cancerous.
There is no safe level of radiation exposure over time. One of the challenges for people who do not realize they have radon problems in a home is recognizing the symptoms of the onset of lung damage and potential cancer, because they mimic many other respiratory issues with a persistent cough, wheezing, hoarseness, shortness of breath, frequent infections like bronchitis and pneumonia, and chest pain. Too often patients are misdiagnosed until cancer has a chance to grow and metastasize or spread.
You try to eat right, you drink filtered or spring water, and you work out. All those things are great and help keep you healthy, but you need to add getting a radon test done periodically, at least every two years or every time a major change like remodeling is done in your home. Take care of it so you know where are the levels. If you are in Colorado, there is a good chance your home needs some radon mitigation done to keep your air quality safe in your home. Test for radon, do something about it and protect yourself from lung cancer.