Radiation is produced when radioactive materials decay and give off (emit) energy in particles or waves. One of the most common sources of radiation in the home comes from radon (Rn)–a radioactive gas that results from the decay of uranium in rock. Rock or stone is used in a variety of materials. “Environmental radon” is typically found in soil and groundwater. It is more likely to be found in certain parts of the country like New York, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Wyoming, among others.
Is there a health risk?
Recent studies indicate that consumers should be aware of two by-products of radiation: radon, which is emitted as a gas; and gamma radiation, which directly exposes anything living nearby to harmful rays.
Where could I find this in my home?
In 1995, the U.S Surgeon General stated that indoor radon is the second-leading cause of lung cancer in the United States. In addition, several health and scientific institutions have agreed that excessive exposure to radiation is related to cancer and gene mutation incidence. Young children and pregnant women should be especially careful of radon and radiation as children(even in womb) are experiencing a higher rate of growth/change (in comparison to the average adult) and might be more at risk of serious exposure.
According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency radiation levels in your home may be detected in the following building materials: brick, cement blocks, granite countertops and glazed tiles. The EPA also reports other sources of radiation in the home include consumer products. Radon may enter the home through soil, water or building materials, such as granite.
What can I do?
Test for radon in your home. You can either hire an expert or use a Do-It-Yourself radon test kit like this one.
If your results show that radon is being emitted in your home, you should replace the source as soon as you can. Sources should be replaced with new products that are made from materials that are proven not to emit any radon and ones that are green. Follow this link to see examples of radon free countertops.
- Radon Test Kits – Site offers do it yourself radon test kits
- American Association of Radon Scientists and Technologists
- American Lung Association – Radon
- Conference of Radiation Control Program Directors, Inc.
- U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) — Health Homes for Healthy Families: About Radon
- U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) — Radiation Protection
- U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) — Radon
- The National Cancer Institute — Radon
- National Safety Council – Radon