PlanetGeo: The Geology Podcast

Radon: The Unwelcome Houseguest

April 07, 2022 Chris and Jesse Season 1 Episode 6
PlanetGeo: The Geology Podcast
Radon: The Unwelcome Houseguest
Show Notes

Are you worried about Radon in your home? 

Here are a few valuable links to learn more about it and some resources to get a test -
United States Environmental Protection Agency page
United States Geological Survey FAQ
United States Map of Radon Risk (get your home checked!)

Today we talk about Radon!  

Radon is something you have probably heard of, but may not know much about.  It is a really important aspect of geoscience that touches our lives everyday. 

Radon is an element that is radioactive. It is formed from the decay of Uranium as Uranium breaks down into Lead.  Radon is special because it is a Noble Gas, which means it is an element that doesn't bond with other elements, so it can move around easily. When Uranium decays, it goes through several steps of decay and eventually gets to Radon. 

Once Radon is formed, it can move. Radon is a gas and can flow through soils, in water, or even seep through concrete. So, it can make it into your house!  Once there, Radon can hang around for a few days until it decays again and eventually produces Pb. 

Radon can move easier if 

  1. The soil is permeable - stuff can flow through it 
  2. The soil is porous - there is a lot of space in the soil
  3. Soil is dry - water slows down Radon movement

There are several ways for Radon to get into your house if it can move quickly through the soil. First it can seep through concrete foundations slowly. Second, it can flow from the high pressure soil to the low pressure air in your house through cracks in the foundation. And third, it can be dissolved in groundwater and get released when that water is agitated (showers, faucet running, etc). 

It's easy to test for Radon in your home, and relatively inexpensive to get it fixed - so if you are unsure, get your home tested!!

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