Emergency Medicine Book

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Radon Gas

Aka: Radon Gas, Radium-226
  1. Pathophysiology
    1. Radon Gas is associated as causative factor for Lung Cancer (the leading cause of Lung Cancer in non-smokers)
      1. Field (2000) Am J Epidemiology 1081-1101 [PubMed]
  2. Epidemiology
    1. NIH estimates 20,000 Lung Cancer deaths per year due to radon
  3. Pathophysiology: Characteristics
    1. Radon is naturally found in soil and bedrock
    2. Radon Gas is a natural decay product of Radium-226
    3. Radon is tasteless, colorless and odorless
    4. Radioactive half-life: 3.8 days
  4. Pathophysiology: Human Risk
    1. Radon concentrates indoors in basements where it is drawn in by a pressure differential created by ventilation systems
      1. Radon enters buildings through cracks in the foundation and floor-wall joints
      2. Radon may also emanate from well water or concrete
    2. High radon concentrations are found throughout the U.S., in both new and old homes, and across socioeconomic groups
    3. U.S. EPA recommends Radon lowering for levels >4 pCi/L, but no Radon levels are considered safe
    4. Radon Gas decays into solid radioactive particles (polonium-214 and 218) that are inhaled and deposit in lung epithelium
  5. Pathophysiology: Radon Level associated Lifetime Lung Cancer Death Risk (per 100,000 people)
    1. Radon Level 0.4 pCi/L: 73 in never smokers (640 in smokers)
    2. Radon Level 2 pCi/L: 370 in never smokers (3,200 in smokers)
    3. Radon Level 4 pCi/L: 730 in never smokers (6,200 in smokers)
    4. Radon Level 8 pCi/L: 1,500 in never smokers (12,000 in smokers)
    5. Radon Level 20 pCi/L: 3,600 in never smokers (26,000 in smokers)
  6. Evaluation: Detection
    1. Radon testing is inexpensive (less than $25) with home testing kits widely available at hardware stores
    2. Radon Gas detector placed in basement of home
    3. Hazardous level of household radon: >4 pCi/L
    4. More common in midwest and most concentrated in basements
  7. Prevention: Dangerous radon levels
    1. Revision of existing construction
      1. Radon mitigation (exhaust for Radon Gas): Costs >$1500
    2. New construction
      1. Radon Proofing Home: $200-400
  8. Prevention: Lung Cancer Screening
    1. NCCN recommends Low Dose Lung CT screening at age 50 years old for 20 py Tobacco and high radon exposure
  9. Resources
    1. National Radon Hotline (test kits and other resources)
      1. Phone: 1-800-SOS-RADON
  10. References
    1. Field (2018) Am Fam Physician 98(5):280-2 [PubMed]

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