Essay: Radon in Michigan Radon Is a Radioactive

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Radon in Michigan

Radon is a radioactive gas that results from the natural radioactive deterioration of uranium in the Earth's soil, and can cause cancer when exposure (caused by breathing in air with excessively high levels of the gas) is greater than average and acceptable levels (EPA 2010). Uranium is a very radioactive element, and as it loses sub-atomic particles -- the defining characteristic of radioactivity -- it changes chemical properties, and solid-state uranium breaks down into radium and then into the gaseous element radon, which is an inert gas (meaning it does not combine or interact with other elements to make larger molecules in nature). Uranium has existed in the Earth's curst since the planet first began to cool and solidify, and it takes billions of years for uranium to break down, meaning that radon gas had long been and will long continue to be a part of the Earth's atmosphere, and as it is heavier than most other air particles it tends to lower in that atmosphere, where we breathe (MDNRE 2010).

As dangerous as radon is as a carcinogen, it is made even more dangerous by some of the unique features of the gas. It has no color, odor, or taste, and exposure to radon gas does not have any preliminary symptoms that might alert residents to its presence before potentially fatal levels of exposure are reached, making it especially insidious (SGO 2007). The fact that radon has no way of being sensed by standard human perception -- it causes no discoloration of foundations or any other effects that can be sensed -- testing for radon levels has also proven to be something of a problem (MDNRE 2010). Luckily, there are many devices that have been created to solve this problem.

Radon testing inside buildings is important because in many buildings, for a variety of reasons, radon gas can build up to levels that are too high to be healthy. Most buildings can use a short-term testing method which can take form two to ninety days to conduct using any number of commercially available self-test kits, from charcoal canisters to electron ion chambers (EPA 2010). Long-term testing taking place at different times of year can also be conducted, and professionals can be hired to test periodically over a long period to ensure that radon levels remain safe -- below four Pico curies per liter of air, or pCi/L (EPA 2010). If short-term levels or long-term averages are above this number, radon reduction devices will be needed to keep the air safe and breathable -- and fortunately these products are highly affordable and effective (EPA 2010).

Michigan has its share of radon just like all of the other states in the country, with problem counties concentrated in the south-eastern portion of the state. For the western counties of the main area of Michigan, less than 10% of homes are estimated to have unsafe levels of radon build up, though there are two counties in the separate western portion of the state estimated to have unsafe radon levels in a third of homes, and another in the 10-20% range (MDNRE 2010). According to the national map, however, Michigan has an elevated risk compared to many neighboring states, a characteristic which it shares with many coastal states (MDNRE 2010, EPA 2010). The surgeon general has urged the federal and state and local governments to increase awareness and testing of radon, which is the second highest cause of lung cancer (after smoking) in… [END OF PREVIEW]

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Radon in Michigan Radon Is a Radioactive.  (2010, March 28).  Retrieved September 17, 2019, from https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/radon-michigan-radioactive/7334434

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