Like a moment frozen in time, the radon rises from its source below the city. Silent, invisible and discreet, it enters your home without you even knowing it. With each breath of air it creeps into the chambers of your bronchiole and releases its radiation. Inhale, exhale, inhale, exhale, slowly the alpha particles of its progeny damage DNA further increasing the chances of its cancerous outcome. Are you breathing it right now????
Scary stories and information about radon gas.
The radiation from radon gas is the number one cause of lung cancer among nonsmokers and the second overall. The dangers of radon have been published by scientists, doctors and governments. The United States EPA, the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, the World Health Organization, the Surgeon General and countless others advocate the need to prevent exposure to radon gas. Even with the scientific proof, some people believe that information about radon is just people using scare tactics to support the radon mitigation and testing industry. In light of this, we are going to use a few freaky stories to scare you into taking action against radon.
Story #1: Don't sleep with your mouth open.
It has been a long day of yard work and chores around the house. You finally got around to rearranging the furniture in your bedroom and got everything positioned just right. After all the hard work you are ready for bed. You shower, turn out the lights and crawl under your comforter. Little do you know that earlier, when you moved the night stand, you stirred something up. It starts as a tickle that you scratch on your leg but nonetheless you fade away into slumber. Gradually, the tickle moves up your side and around to your chest. Slowly, it moves onto your neck, but you don’t even notice it as you sleep there with your mouth open. Dreaming, breathing deeply, the warmth from each exhale is the attraction. You breathe in as the black widow spider, with babies on her back, moves onto your lips and…….
Radon is more dangerous than spiders.
- I’m even cringing after that one! I can’t stand spiders, especially when doing radon mitigation in crawlspaces!
- According to Animal-Related Fatalities in the United States—An Update By Ricky L. Langeley, MD, MPH there were an estimated 66 deaths from spider bites between 1991 and 2001. If you compare the estimates by the EPA, more than 200,000 will people die from radon during a ten year period in the U.S.
- This story was about a spider crawling into your mouth while sleeping which is a freaky and disgusting thought indeed; but did you know that while you sleep at night it could be your highest exposure to radon gas each day? Radon is heavier than air and tends to be at higher concentrations the closer to the ground you are depending on the elevation of your bed. While you are lying there, you may be breathing higher amounts of radon for several hours each night and you don’t even know it. This invisible gas doesn’t seem as scary but it is much more dangerous than those eight legged creatures that make many of us squirm.
Story #2: Something is lurking in the water.
You earned it. You take your much needed vacation. It’s time to hit the beach and relax after a hard year at the office. You decide to take a swim. With the sun shining on your face and your feet dangling in the dark water below, you suddenly feel the sense of being watched. You hear a splash behind you, but only see a swirl in the water. Remembering the small cut you have on your leg, that it may be spreading a faint blood trail throughout the surrounding water, you begin to panic. Every movement of your body could be the trigger that causes the instinctual response for the shark's attack. Moving slower, it’s difficult to keep your head above water as you look to the shore. It’s too late duh-dun…. Duh-dun…. Duh-dun.. duh-dun, duh-dun, duh-dun.
Radon is more dangerous than sharks.
- It is a scary thought to be attacked by a shark, but it’s good to know that the chances are slim. According to National Geographic, there are only an average of 19 shark attacks per year and only one fatality every two years. That number is pretty low when considering the millions of people who swim in the oceans each year. Even with numbers so low, if you are like me, the thought has crossed your mind at some point while bobbing in the deep blue sea.
- Comparatively speaking, 19 shark attacks is far less than the 20,000 plus lung cancer deaths in the United States from radon gas. But death by radon is not quite the material people make horror movies out of.
- Like Sharks, radon can be in the water. Whether you have well water or city water it can contain this gas. When you drink it or release it into the air from running the shower or faucet, it can create a dangerous situation in your home.
Story #3: The dark basement.
Tomorrow is the big day, you are planning on having family and friends over for a housewarming party. Having recently moved into your dream home in the suburbs, you are slowly getting used to the arrangement of your kitchen. Working alone preparing the sides for the feast, you feel an unsettling sense that someone or something is there with you…. You turn on some music, brush it off and continue with your preparations. You begin to arrange the table and realize that the place settings are still packed away in boxes down in the basement. You remember that when you were looking for homes to buy, you fell in love with this house with the exception that something just felt strange about the basement. It’s dark and late at night, but you know you need to go downstairs so you can finish setting up for the party. You walk down the steps, each one creaking along the way. You try to turn on the hallway light but the switch isn’t working so you hurry down the hall past your exercise room, your future child's room and into the storage room where you turn on a light. The light is dim but you find the box that you’re looking for. You grab the box and you hear it, a faint whisper of your name. Was it your imagination? You quickly make your way out of the room and down the hallway. You look back and see the faint silhouette of a human. You quickly make your way up the steps but now it’s right behind you! SMACK, the box hits the stairs. The next day your family arrives to find nothing but an empty house and broken dishes on the stairs…..
Radon is more dangerous than ghosts.
- I know many people, especially children get freaked out when going down in the basement by themselves. Some can’t help but to think that there may be a ghostly apparition hiding behind any corner waiting to jump out and get them. There are horror stories, thriller movies and campfire conversations about ghosts, ghouls and haunted houses.... but to this day there is no proof of any such thing, yet millions believe in it. All the while, there is something else to be feared in basements. Basements are surrounded by soil that radon gas can come from. Invisibly it seeps and creeps into the bedrooms, exercise rooms, man-caves and theater rooms without you knowing it. It might be there while you sleep, it might be there while your children play in their toy room, you may never know until it’s too late.
- While millions watch documentaries, read books and scare themselves into believing in ghosts, there are also millions who are skeptical of the dangers of radon gas. Science has proven the danger of breathing it. While many people wonder if they have ghosts in their basement, 1 in 15 American homes have high radon levels. Many populated areas have a much higher probability. Midwestern cities in Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota and Wisconsin can have elevated levels in more than 50% of homes. Western states like Utah, Colorado, Oregon and Idaho all have areas where radon levels can be very high. Some homes in Eastern states like New York, Pennsylvania and Massachusetts have levels off the charts. Wherever you live in the country, you should test for radon to know if you have an invisible house guest living among you and your family.
Are you afraid yet?
Have any of these scare tactics worked? Hopefully this article will provoke you to either test for it yourself with a radon test kit or hire a measurement provider. To relieve your fears and anxiety about this deadly gas, it is good to know that radon mitigation systems will fix the problem. These systems create ventilation in the soil under the foundation and are usually priced less than $1500 for most homes. Don’t be afraid to buy a house if it has radon because all homes can be fixed. Prevent it from ever being a problem by building any new home using radon resistant new construction techniques. Whatever you do, don’t dismiss this information as just another scare tactic because it could save your life.
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