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Understanding Radon In the scene where the hero saves the girl in the classic family movie “The Princess Bride” there is a short interchange of dialog between the hero and the bad guy holding a knife to the damsel’s throat. It is easily remembered by those who have watched the film that the hero, Westley, is bargain for the life of his fair lady with an over confident but intelligent man named Vizzini. As part of the bargain each man must drink wine from one of two goblets, supposedly one of which has been poised by iocane powder. In explaining the danger of the fictitious powder to Vizzini, Westley states that it is odorless tasteless and dissolves instantly in water. The hero wins the battle of wits, Vizzini is poised by a toxin that he could not detect with any of his senses but was none the less fatal when ingested and the movie plays out with a happy ending. But while iocane powder is a made up and fictitious poison from Australia, there is a real potentially deadly poison that is truly odorless, tasteless, is found in water and cannot be seen by the human eye.

Poisonous Radon Radon gasses are the real world’s deadly iocane. Radon gas is the natural byproduct of decaying uranium and is, like its source, radioactive and therefore potentially deadly to humans. Uranium is a natural element that exists in the soils and rocks of the Earth. As it decays it gives off radioactive gasses that are impossible for a human to detect with their naked senses as, as stated previously, it can neither be smelled nor seen nor tasted. This makes for a deadly combination of events if radon levels reach inappropriately high amounts in areas where people spend their time. The radioactivity of radon gasses have been shown to cause lung cancer in persons who regularly unknowingly inhale the gas.

Damage of It Causes The Environmental Protection Agency has estimated that radon gas has inflicted around 21,000 deaths due to lung cancer per year. This would make radon poisoning the second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States behind only smoking. Radon, because it seeps from the ground due to natural process, can be found in every state and in every town in the nation. The problems with radon inflicted sickness


usually occur because the seeping radioactive gas enters into residences and homes where it gets trapped and subsequently inhaled by the persons in the dwelling. The age of the building has little to do with the potential amounts of deadly gasses that can be found within the home and should therefore not be considered safe based solely on the age of the structure. Testing for radon is therefore suggested when moving from one home to another, even if the home is new.

Radon Testing Radon testing is a relatively cheap and easy process that can be performed by professionals or homeowners and is strongly suggested by the EPA to ensure that homes are not in danger of having dangerous amounts of radon levels trapped in the structure. Radon testing will ensure that a family or individual is secure within their own home from this potentially lethal and otherwise undetectable toxic gas.

Photo Credit: Hadock, Cosmovisi贸n


Understanding Radon