Radon is a radioactive gas that enters your home through cracks and pores in the foundation as uranium decays underground. Radon is a colorless, odorless, and tasteless gas, which means it requires specialized testing to protect your family.
Radon exposure is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States, just behind smoking, and is the leading cause of lung cancer in nonsmokers. Even more, children may be at greater risk from exposure than adults.
Because kids’ lungs are smaller and their respiratory rates are higher than adults, they may take in more radon. In fact, the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry estimates that a child may take in twice the amount of radon an adult does when exposed to the same levels over the same amount of time. Some research even suggests that children who live in homes with high radon levels may have a higher risk of developing childhood acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL).
Additionally, many children in Utah have bedrooms on the lowest level of a home where radon levels are the highest. The higher concentration is due to the simple fact that the room is closest to the ground where radon is the most concentrated. It’s also important to understand the two primary risk factors are the concentration levels and the duration the child is exposed. The risk for radon-induced lung cancer increases when someone spends time in an area with a high concentration of radon over a long period of time. (For example: A child that is exposed to 4.0 pCi/L of radon over 15 years has a higher risk for radon-induced lung cancer than a child who is exposed to 10 pCi/L over 5 years.)
If you have a child with a bedroom in a basement (or the lowest level of the home), don’t panic. High radon levels can be solved within a few hours by having a certified radon technician install a permanent radon mitigation system in your home. For more information about the radon installation process, visit this article.
A recent study in Environmental International suggests that radon exposure is associated with increased odds of hypertensive disorders of pregnancy (such as gestational hypertension and preeclampsia). While all the risks of radon exposure in pregnancy are unknown, it’s safest to avoid exposure to high radon levels, especially in pregnancy.
With risks like these, it is imperative to test your home for radon to ensure the safety of your children or future children. If you’ve tested your home in the past, the Environmental Protection Agency recommends retesting it every 2 years. Fill out the form on this page or contact the experts at Utah Radon Services to learn more.