The Risk of Living with Radon
Radon gas, a relatively common natural indoor air pollutant, is a radioactive decay product of uranium. It is widespread in the United States: on average, 1 of every 15 homes have radon levels that are higher than the recommended action levels. Radon and its decay products increase the risk of lung cancer. Residential radon exposure causes an estimated 21,000 lung cancer deaths per year.
Radon is an environmental source of radiation. Its effects on the human body are similar to continuous x-ray screenings. Although everyone is exprosed to radon, not everyone has the same reaction to prolonged radon expolsure. Some populations are at higher risk of developing radon poisoning or other health conditions. The unborn child of a pregnant woman is perhaps most sensitive to radiation, followed by young children and adolescents.
How does Radon Gas Affect Children?
Various studies prove children’s vulnerability to radon exposure. For example, case study of the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry concludes that due to lung shape and size differences, children have higher estimated radiation doses than adults. Their lungs are developing faster, making them more sensitive to the indoor air quality. In addition, children have faster breathing rates which almost doubles the risk of developing lung cancer compared to adults. If tobacco smoke is also present in kids’ homes, the risk of developing lung cancer increases at least 20 times.
Children and adolescents grow quickly, and their cells are more sensitive to radiation. Since effects of radiation take years to develop, individuals exposed to elevated levels of radon in their youth are more likely to develop radon-related illnesses later in life.
Another cause for concern is a research suggesting that children who live in homes with high radon levels may have an increased risk of developing childhood acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL). While the risk factors associated with ALL are complex and the evidence is mixed, some analysts claim that children exposed to elevated levels of radon can have higher risk of developing ALL than children exposed to lower levels.
Ways to Protect Your Kids from Radon
The first step you should take is to test your home for radon. This is the place where people spend the majority of their time. If your test results are above the recommended action level, hire a professional to install a radon reduction system.
Second, if your child is in a daycare or school, ask if the building has been tested for radon. Daycares are often in the basements of buildings, and bottom level rooms are more likely to have higher radon levels than other rooms. United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommends testing all schools for radon.
Lastly, educate your kids about radon. They should have basic knowledge about environmental radiation to make educated choices later in life. Licking County Health Department has created a fun coloring book to help parents and teachers start this conversation. You can download your copy here: Radon Awareness Coloring Book
Radon in Schools
An EPA nationwide survey of radon levels in schools estimates that nearly one in five has at least one schoolroom with elevated radon levels. The agency stimates that more than 70,000 schoolrooms in use today have high short-term radon levels. This is why EPA recommends testing all schools for radon.
As part of an effective IAQ (Indoor Air Quality) management program, schools can take steps to test for radon and reduce risks to occupants. EPA’s IAQ Design Tools for Schools provides guidance on how to control radon in renovation and construction projects. In addition, Ohio Department of Health recommends periodic retesting, at least every 5 years: ODH – Radon in Schools.
The only way to know if elevated radon levels are present is to test. Ohio Radon Mitigation LLC offers professional radon testing, results interpretation and mitigation in schools. Our licensed professionals can also consult school officials how to manage radon risks during repair, renovation and maintenance of existing facilities. If your school or daycare needs professional consultation on radon, simply contact us. We provide prompt testing and free mitigation price quotes!