Skip to content

What is Radon

  • Element RN222
  • Occurs Naturally
  • Radioactive Gas
  • Comes from the Ground
  • Odorless / Colorless
  • Unstable - 3.8 Day half-life
  • Alpha Radiation (α) - Can Cause Cancer

Radon is a naturally occurring radioactive element that enters the atmosphere from the ground. This gas results from the decay of Radium in soil and rock. It is odorless and colorless with a half-life of 3.8 days.

Some Physics

The lung cancer risk from prolonged exposure to elevated levels of radon results from the daughters of radon, Po218 and Po214. These metals can stick to lung tissue and when they decay further, the alpha radiation (α) given off can cause cell damage and altered cell chemistry.

  • pCi/L = picoCuries per Liter (Air)
  • 1 pCi/L = 2.2  α decays/min
  • Alpha radiation (α) is composed of 2 protons and 2 neutrons.
  • Radium Ra226 --> Radon RN222 --> Polonium Po218 --> Polonium Po214
  • Po218 and Po214 are Metals
    • stick to lung tissue
    • give off  α radiation
    • can cause cell mutation + chemical change in lungs