What You Need to Know About Radon Gas Poisoning

Many parts of the United States are at high risk for exposure to radon. In some areas, over 50% of all buildings contain elevated radon concentrations, which the EPA has labeled as a serious health risk. So, what is radon gas and what are the symptoms of radon gas poisoning? Here’s what you need to know about how radon can impact your health and how to limit your exposure. 

What is Radon Gas?

Radon is a naturally occurring, radioactive gas that cannot be seen, has no smell, and cannot be tasted, unlike some gases like carbon monoxide, for example. Radon comes from the breakdown of uranium, a metal element found underground, and travels upward through the ground and diffuses into the air. Radon can also be contained in groundwater, where it off-gasses into the air when the water is used.  

Radon gas usually exists in relatively low concentrations outdoors, averaging 0.4 pCi/L. However, when radon enters into homes and buildings it can become trapped inside in higher concentrations, significant health risks arise. According to the US EPA, exposure to radon is the leading cause of lung cancer among non-smokers (second overall only to smoking). It is responsible for more than 21,000 annual deaths in the United States.

What is Radon Gas Poisoning?

Radon gas poisoning may not present symptoms until many years after being exposed to this radioactive gas. Exposure to elevated levels of radon over a prolonged period of time can be hazardous to human health and lead to radon gas poisoning. 

Symptoms of radon gas poisoning may not be obvious and may not occur right away. Unfortunately, signs of exposure to radon gas are similar to signs of early stages of lung cancer such as a persistent cough, shortness of breath, chest pain, and more.

When radioactive particles of radon gas are inhaled, the radiation can cause damage to lung tissue, which can lead to cell mutations, and can ultimately result in lung cancer. The higher the concentrations of radon within a building or home, the more risk, however, any level of radon can cause damage to your lungs.

Radon gas poisoning can be prevented with proper testing and mitigation. Radon testing is relatively inexpensive and there are multiple options for how to test professional radon testing company. Knowing the radon levels in your home is the first step to knowing your risk. If elevated levels of radon gas are detected, a properly installed radon mitigation system is a safe and reliable solution to limiting your exposure to radon at home. Learn more about testing and mitigation below.

Where Does Radon Gas Come From?

Radon gas is a naturally occurring element that originates in the ground, arising from the breakdown of uranium.

Because Uranium and Radon are natural elements, geology can impact the amount of these elements in higher or lower concentrations depending on where a home or building is located. Although, elevated levels of radon gas have been found in every state in the U.S. and in places all over the world.

Radon can enter homes and buildings through gaps or cracks in the foundation and other pathways. Any building regardless of age, foundation, type of construction, or location can have high levels of radon, even newly constructed buildings or homes with only one level.

Radon concentrations can also be higher in buildings that are more energy efficient. Well-insulated, tightly sealed, buildings decrease the number of air changes per hour, which increases the opportunity for radon to accumulate to dangerous levels.

How Radon Enters the Home

Your home, your place of work, or even the school your children attend can have hazardous concentrations of radon. According to the U.S. EPA, about 1 in 15 buildings in the U.S. have elevated radon levels; however, in some parts of the country, 50% or more of buildings have a radon problem.

What is your radon risk?

Enter your zip code to search the radon levels in your area and learn more about your risk of exposure. 

How Long Does It Take for Radon to Affect You?

The amount of time it takes for radon to affect you depends on several factors, including the level of radon present, the duration of exposure, and individual factors, like age, health status, and lifestyle habits.

The higher the level of radon and the longer the exposure, the greater the risk of developing lung cancer. While not everyone who is exposed to radon will develop lung cancer, there is also no safe level of radon. It is always best to test your home and mitigate any existing radon to limit your exposure. 

How Does Radon Gas Cause Lung Cancer?

Radon gas is made of tiny radioactive particles. When these particles are inhaled, they can damage the cells that line your lungs. Long-term exposure to radon can lead to lung cancer. If you smoke, your risk is even greater. An increased risk of leukemia associated with radon exposure in adults and children has also been suggested.

Due to lung shape and size, children have higher estimated radiation doses than adults largely due to have faster breathing rates than adults. The risk of developing lung cancer for children resulting from exposure to radon is possibly two times greater than adults exposed to the same amount of radon.

Sadly, an estimated 70,000 classrooms contain hazardous radon concentrations because most schools and childcare facilities aren’t required to test for radon gas by law.

What you need to know about Radon Gas Poisoning
Radon can enter the lungs when breathed. The radioactive particles enter through the nose or mouth and damage the lung tissue.

What are the symptoms of radon gas poisoning?

Unlike other gases like carbon monoxide, symptoms of radon poisoning won’t show up right away. While the effects of radon gas exposure may not show up for many years, the results are chronic and present themselves as lung cancer. 

Radon gas poisoning and early lung cancer have symptoms such as: 

  • Persistent cough  
  • Shortness of breath  
  • Difficulty swallowing  
  • Chest pain 
  • Frequent infections, like pneumonia  
  • Weight loss 
  • Coughing up blood 
  • Wheezing


Specific medical testing to determine if you have been exposed to hazardous concentrations of radon gas simply doesn’t exist. That’s why it’s important to be aware of the symptoms of lung cancer and radon exposure as a possible cause.

If you are experiencing symptoms of lung cancer, talk with your doctor about your options for testing, especially if you know that you have been exposed to high levels of radon or have a history of smoking.

How Can I Protect Myself and My Family from Radon Gas Exposure?

Radon testing is the first step in protecting you and your family from radon gas poisoning. Testing your home or workplace is easy and cost-effective. If you have children attending school, request their building to be tested as well. If you find that you have a radon problem, take steps to have the building mitigated to limit your exposure to radon gas. 

Ensure that all testing and mitigation is done by a qualified professional using the national consensus standards. Better yet, let the professionals at Protect Environmental provide you with peace of mind protection knowing that you and your family are safe from the silent killer – radon gas.

A Protect Professional comes to your home and conducts a radon test. Data is collected using a CRM device for 48 hours.
We evaluate your test results and work with you to develop the best course of action for YOUR home. The EPA recommends mitigation when radon levels are at 4.0 pCi/L or higher.
If you choose to mitigate, a Protect Professional comes to your home to install the radon mitigation system. Once the system is installed, we test again to ensure that the mitigation system is working properly to reduce the radon levels in your home.

Exposure to radon gas presents a significant health concern. The only way to know if you and your family are at risk is to test the buildings where you live, work, and learn.

If you have a radon problem, working with certified radon mitigation professionals is the solution to reducing the radon levels in your home or building.

There are also affordable payment plans for mitigation system installation. Talk with your local Protect Environmental professionals for your peace of mind protection against radon and ask us about our financing options!

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