Radon Dangers: Signs of Radon Poisoning

Radon is a naturally-occurring gas resulting from decaying uranium in the ground. Like carbon monoxide, you can’t see, taste or smell it. Why is radon dangerous? Because radon is radioactive. If you’re exposed to it in high enough concentration over a long period of time, it can lead to lung cancer.

signs of radon poisoningFrancesco Scatena/Shutterstock

Why is Radon Dangerous?

Radon is a naturally-occurring gas resulting from decaying uranium in the ground. Like carbon monoxide, you can’t see, taste or smell it. Why is radon dangerous? Because radon is radioactive. If you’re exposed to it in high enough concentration over a long period of time, it can lead to lung cancer.

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Signs of Radon Poisoning

Since the result of radon poisoning is lung cancer, the signs of radon poisoning are the same as the symptoms for lung cancer:

  • nagging cough
  • coughing up blood
  • wheezing
  • chest pain
  • shortness of breath
  • frequent bouts of pneumonia or bronchitis
  • unexplained weight loss

But, these symptoms don’t just happen from walking into a room with dangerous levels of radon. There are no known symptoms for short-term radon exposure. In fact, they may not show up for many years, and only after prolonged exposure. The problem is, however, that once you experience the symptoms of radon poisoning, you may already have lung cancer.

How to Reduce Radon in Your Home

You can’t have radon removed from your body, but you can remove it from your home. First, test your home to see if you have dangerous levels of radon. DIY radon test kits are available at home centers or online. Or you can hire a company to come to your house and perform the test. Basements and crawl spaces are the worst offenders because of their proximity to the ground.

If you find out that you have dangerous levels of radon, you’ll likely need to install a radon mitigation system to evacuate the gas from your living space. This is best performed by a professional, but a serious DIYer could install their own radon mitigation system, or at least save a bunch of money by doing some of the prep work. Check out these radon mitigation system tips.

Here’s more on testing and stopping radon in your home.

Buy a DIY radon test kit now on Amazon.

 

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Brad Holden
Brad Holden, an associate editor at The Family Handyman, has been building cabinets and furniture for 30 years. In that time, he has absorbed so many slivers and ingested so much sawdust that he's practically made of wood.