Sunday, August 26, 2007

Radon Gas, What Are The Risks?

Most of the time if you have mold, there is an associated smell. Well, unlike mold, Radon is odorless, colorless and tasteless. Oh, did I mention it is also radioactive? There are two sides of the fence regarding Radon.

Side #1 - Oh my God, we detected or you will die!

Side #2 - You have Radon? Eh, no big deal.

I have a friend that works for the FDA, and has worked for them before "day-1" of the Radon craze. One day we had a great conversation about Radon and his personal thoughts on the subject. I want to make it clear that his personal thoughts are not exactly the same as his employer (FDA). So, when we were talking, it was friend to friend.

He told me about how the FDA became involved with Radon.

It all started way back at the time of the Three Mile Island Nuclear Power Plant incident in Pennsylvania (1979). One day, when an unknowing employee was scanned while entering the facility, he set off the radiation detectors. To make matters worse, they could not determine how this employee became exposed. Well, as part of their investigation, and team was sent to his house where they found the source of his exposure. They detected radon gas in his house.

Since that time Radon has been kicked around in the media and has scared home owners, home buyers, home inspectors, real estate agents and medical practitioners. Even within the Boston area, both sides still butt heads.

When people hear the word RADIOACTIVE, they become scared. I'm going to warn you about reading any further.

Bananas are radioactive! WHAT, you say? Bananas contain Potassium (K40) which is radioactive and will set of radiation detectors.

I'm certainly not saying since it is OK to eat "radioactive" bananas, that it's OK to be exposed to Radon.

Just like mold, Radon can be dangerous. But to who is not clearly defined and is debated by scientists and medical practitioners all over the world.

Allow me to Paraphrase the FDA's stance on Radon.

The FDA states that 20,000/year die from Radon. However the number is skewed. They do not have evidence to support their claim.

Risk Factors:
* Radiation levels of Radon.
* Duration of exposure to the Radon.
* General Health of the occupants.
* Age of the occupants.
* Smokers / Non-smokers
* Genetics!!!!!!

If you are retired, and a smoker that has a bedroom and living space in a basement, you are more likely to be affected by exposure to Radon. Unless you have good genes and you will be fine.

If you are a young and healthy, non-smoker that has a bedroom on the second floor, you are less likely to be affected by exposure to Radon. Unless you have bad genes and then you are in trouble.

I hope you now understand how ridiculous their stance is.

So, what am I saying, is Radon dangerous or not? I do not take any pathogen lightly. I will always lean toward the side of caution. Why take a chance?

However, I do not want you to be scared, I want you to be informed. So, if you have Radon issues, research the topic. So, no matter if it is mold or radon, be informed, not afraid.