Radon is a colourless, odourless, and tasteless gas. In the United States it has been called ‘the silent killer’ because though imperceptible, it causes tissue damage and very serious illnesses…
Worrying data exist from around the world on this radioactive gas…
- Radon is a naturally occurring radioactive gas resulting from the decay of radium, itself a decay product of uranium. It emanates from the earth and on a smaller scale from certain construction materials and water pipes;
- Radon is everywhere and in the open air it rapidly disperses and rarely reaches hazardous concentrations. The gas is much more harmful when present indoors, where it tends to accumulate, reaching levels likely to represent a risk to health;
- the UN Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation (UNSCEAR) has stated that radon is the main source of ionising radiation to which the world’s population is exposed. In 1988 the International Agency for Cancer Research of the World Health Organisation (WHO) identified radon as a ‘Class A’ carcinogen, putting it in second place (10%) after tobacco smoke (85%) as the cause of lung tumours;
- the risk of developing such severe symptoms among smokers exposed to radon is around 15 times higher than non-smokers exposed to the same concentrations.
- the National Academy of Sciences estimates an annual mortality rate of 15,000 to 22,000 in the United States alone. In a country like France, where the concentration levels are around the European average, deaths from lung cancer caused by radon are estimated at 10%. In the United Kingdom, where the standard concentration is lower, lung cancer cases are actually higher and health authorities estimate that around 2000 lung-tumour deaths result from exposure to the gas per year.