The environmental is a tremendously powerful entity that we as a human species have somehow managed to lump into one giant and somewhat unclear term referring to the many different vibrant ecosystems on the planet. There are so many different aspects of the environment of the earth for us to be in awe of, and sometimes the planet’s powers almost demand a certain deference and respect. One of the many ways the planet manages to keep humans in check is through radioactive materials. Even though we have tried to harness this power ourselves as an energy source, we have largely failed to do so and have mostly ended up causing more harm than good with our experiments. Even still, the vast majority of human illness caused by radiation comes from a little known chemical element known as radon. Radon is an incredible part of the chain of radioactive decay. Indeed, it’s impact is widespread. As an isotope of radium, radon is part of a large family of radioactive elements that have been present on earth for billions of years. Radium is produced by uranium and thorium, and radium then produces radon through radioactive decay. It is radon and its “radon daughters” that cause the most problems in humans when it comes to radioactive poisoning and health problems.
There are a few things that make radon very dangerous and radon mitigation so important. First, radon, unlike the other elements in the chain of decay up until this point, is gaseous. This makes it very easily inhaled and very difficult to avoid. Have you ever tried to catch a cloud and pin it down? It is impossible because it is a fluffy collection of water molecules. The same goes for radon. Catching a gas in a contained space and keeping it from poisoning other spaces is very difficult to do. It is for this reason that radon has caused so many problems for humans. Radon is very easily inhaled and is, therefore, responsible for the largest amount of public exposure to ionizing radiation. It even tends to be the largest contributing source of a person’s “background radiation” dose. Even though radon gas has a relatively short half life, it can still end up concentrated in far higher than normal concentrations in some buildings and especially in basements and crawl spaces because it is a heavy element. For this reason, it tends to drop to lower spaces rather than exist in higher areas. For the same reason, it can also concentrate in some spring waters as well as hot springs. Radon becomes dangerous in these settings because it is easier to inhale large concentrations of it and also not very easy to escape it. When you live in a place that has higher concentrations of radon, it becomes part of your everyday air supply. Moreover, radon daughters are solids that can stick to the airways and cause problems. You should call in the SWAT Environmental team to check your radon levels and start the radon reduction process if you think you may be suffering from high concentrations of radon.