Radon is a colorless, odorless, inert radioactive gas. You can’t see it, smell it or feel it but it is always present in the air we breath- approximately 0.35 pCi/L (picocuries per liter) in normal outside air. Radon comes from the natural radioactive decay of radium and uranium found in the soil. Radon levels in the soil can range from a few hundred to a several thousand pCi/L.
The amount of radon required to cause health issue is a hotly debated topic. The EPA states that levels >4 pCi/L can impose a health risk. This debated level varies greatly when attributed to a persons life style habits, for example: Smoking, family history of cancer, young children, etc. The EPA radon map of Missouri lists southwest Missouri area in a moderate risk category, on average, between 2 and 4 pCi/L.
We need to understand that if our radon levels are greater than this, it doesn’t necessarily mean that we are in immediate danger. However, careful study of our life style risks in comparison to the actual radon levels should be evaluated.
A really good article that we found was an article by G. Thomas Martin entitled, “Understanding Radon”. This article covered most all of the specifics of radon at an understandable level and can be found at: http://www.discoverit.com/at/phi/article.html.
Additional ResourcesEnvironmental Protection AgencyEPA’s RADON Map of MissouriRadiation, Science & HealthNational Radon Safety BoardThe National Environmental Health AssociationState of Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services