Radon is a naturally occurring cancer-causing radioactive gas caused from the natural breakdown (radioactive decay) of uranium. The Surgeon General has warned that radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States today. It typically takes years of exposure before any problems surface. Radon is also fairly soluble in water. It is an invisible, odorless, tasteless gas that seeps up through the ground and diffuses into the air. In a few areas, it dissolves into ground water and can be released into the air when the water is used.
The EPA action level guideline is 4pCi/l for Radon. This carries approximately 1000 times the risk of death than the EPA safety standard. The U.S. EPA lifetime safety standards for carcinogens are established based on a 1 in 100,000 risk of death. Most scientists agree that the risk of death for Radon at 4 pCi/l, is approximately 1 in 100. It is important to note that the action level is not a safe level, as there are no “safe” levels of this radioactive gas. Scientists estimate that 15,000 to 22,000 lung cancer deaths in the United States each year are related to radon.
About 1 in 15 U.S. homes is estimated to have radon levels at or above this EPA action level. Scientists estimate that lung cancer deaths could be reduced by 2 to 4 percent, or about 5,000 deaths, by lowering levels in homes exceeding the EPA’s action level.
Radon can enter homes through cracks in floors, walls, or foundations, and collect indoors. It can also be released from building materials, or from water obtained from wells that contain radon. Levels can be higher in homes that are well insulated, tightly sealed, and/or built on soil rich in the elements uranium, thorium, and radium. Basement and first floors typically have the highest levels because of their closeness to the ground.
There are two types of technology that remove radon from water: Granular activated carbon (GAC) filters (which use activated carbon to remove the radon), and. Aeration devices (which bubble air through the water and carry radon gas out into the atmosphere through an exhaust fan).