Radon is a colorless, odorless, tasteless gas that is radioactive. It decays into solid metallic, radioactive particles of Polonium, Bismuth and Lead. It is these solid radioactive particles that are airborne for a while and can be inhaled and cause DNA mutations leading to lung cancer. Alpha particles are the semi-truck of the ionizing radiation spectrum. They are relatively large and slow moving and can be stopped with a piece of paper. Unfortunately, they cause much of the problem with lung cancer since they can be inhaled when attached to dust particles. Alexander Litvinenko, the Russian spy was killed by alpha particle radiation.
These are pictures of the impact crater of alpha particles on a piece of cellulose film.
National levels of indoor radon are 1.3 picocuries/liter. In Colorado, they are 6.4 picocuries/liter! Living in a home with 6.4 picocuries/liter is like having 200 chest x-rays per year!
When to Test
Newer science suggests that duration of exposure to moderate levels of radon is as damaging as shorter exposure to higher levels.
Do you work from your basement?
Does someone live in the lower level of your home?
Do you exercise in your basement?
Do you or your teenager spend hours playing video games in your basement?
Do you have theater in your basement?
Has it been 5 years since the last test?