Radon Gas and Pregnancy: What's the Risk?
RADON GAS AND PREGNANCY: WHAT IS RADON?
Radon forms from the natural breakdown of uranium in soil and rocks. A known carcinogen, radon is a documented killer. First written about in the mid-1500s, radon caused a considerable number of lung cancer deaths in miners. Though they didn't know the cause of these deaths at the time, they knew it was something in the mine shafts, which encouraged the development of new techniques in ventilation.
Radon is a concern in your home because of its presence in the soil beneath your home. Radon gas enters the living space through cracks and gaps in the floors and around pipes. 1 in 15 houses has elevated levels of radon.
RADON GAS AND PREGNANCY: WHY IS IT DANGEROUS?
Radon gas is colorless, odorless and tasteless. You can't know if it's in your home without professional testing. This, coupled with the fact that radon-caused lung cancer doesn't typically occur for five to 25 years after exposure, poses a sizeable health risk to homeowners.
Radon gas gives off tiny radioactive particles that damage the cells lining your lungs when inhaled. Long-term exposure can lead to lung cancer; lung cancer is the only proven health effect of radon gas exposure.
Radon gas exposure is the second leading cause of lung cancer in smokers and first cause in non-smokers. The chances that a smoker will develop lung cancer are significantly higher if they are also exposed to elevated levels of radon.
Children, unfortunately, are at a greater risk of developing lung cancer than adults when exposed to the same level of radon for the same amount of time. Fetuses are at a risk level higher even than children.
Lung shape and size differences account for the higher estimated radiation doses children experience in the presence of radon than adults do. Children, though smaller, have higher respiratory rates than adults, contributing to their increased exposure. Fetuses are more susceptible to radon-induced cancer from their rapidly dividing cells and faster respiration. Radon gas and pregnancy is dangerous because children exposed to radon in the womb have an increased risk of lung cancer later in life.
RADON GAS AND PREGNANCY: WHEN SHOULD I TEST MY HOME?
Radon gas is undetectable without testing, and exposure increases the risk that you and any children or fetuses in the home will develop lung cancer. There are two types of tests, short-term (less than 90 days) and long-term (longer than 90 days). Typically, tests last between 48 and 96 hours. The testing device is placed in the lowest level of living and left alone throughout the duration of the test. Results come back in pCi/L, or picocuries per liter of air.
RADON GAS AND PREGNANCY: DO I NEED MITIGATION?
Proper mitigation involves a fan system that sucks the gas from the soil beneath your home and pipes it up to the top where it can safely dissipate into the air. The World Health Organization (WHO) promotes mitigation at any level above 2.7 pCi/L while the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommends acting at levels above 4.0 pCi/L. If your level of radon is even slightly elevated, and you or someone in your home is pregnant, consider installing a radon mitigation system for safety.
More info? For more information about protecting your baby at home check out our other post: TIPS FOR ‘BABY PROOFING’ YOUR INDOOR AIR.
Call 877-957-5670 to schedule an appointment with an AdvantaClean radon specialist today!