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What is radon?

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Quick Answer

Radon is a gas produced during the decomposition or decay of radioactive materials. It is colorless and odorless and is found both in and out of doors. Researchers have linked long-term exposure to radon with an increased susceptibility to certain cancers in humans.

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Full Answer

While small amounts of radon are found in outdoor air or in the water occupying lakes and rivers, people are most likely to encounter it indoors. The chances of being exposed to radon vary greatly from region to region, as it depends upon the prevalence of radioactive elements, particularly uranium, in the soil and rock beneath structures that people inhabit. As of 2015, every state in the United States has some area where increased radon levels prevail.

Radon gas can rise from its place below the surface and enter air and water sources. It can also break down into tinier radioactive particles, called radon progeny, which is then breathed into the body and thus enter the lungs. As a result of the continued decay of these radioactive materials, lungs may incur serious damage and even develop cancer. Researchers insist that radon-induced lung cancer is more likely when coupled with cigarette smoke; nonetheless, many non-smokers perish every year due to the same phenomenon.

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