Radon Exposure Prevention

by Michael_Koger

Despite the serious consequences which may result from radon exposure, it is possible to take preventive steps.

Through community health education and awareness, it is possible to reduce the dangers of radon exposure in humans. This entails an understanding of the process in homes across the globe and what residents can do to lessen their exposure to the gas.

It also requires comprehension of risk factors for exposure to the substance. Some residents will be more likely to inhale radon gas than others, and early identification of that health disparity will afford the best long term prognosis.

Modes of Radon Entry

The entry of this substance depends on how much uranium is present in soil and rocks beneath the residence and available routes through which it can enter the home.  Moreover, the rate of exchange for outdoor and indoor air will determine the amount that will enter the house.  Specifically, its ability to enter the home will be a function of window sealing, the owners’ patterns of ventilation, and the construction of the home [2].

Radon may enter the residence via sumps and drains, floor gaps, pores in hollow-block walls, and cracks which are present at the junctions of floors and walls.  In light of these observations, improvement in home ventilation will reduce its concentration.  Sealing of floors and walls will help as well [2].

Sump system installation in the basement and avoidance of radon passage from the basement to living rooms will alleviate exposure risk.  In general, levels of this gas are higher in basements than on upper floors of the building.  An increase in under-floor ventilation or installation of positive-pressure ventilation systems will ameliorate the situation [2].

In Europe and the United States, safety measures to reduce radon exposure in homes are routine in their construction.  This toxic substance is present in all homes to some extent, and age or type of construction does not exempt any residence.  This is true for homes which are crawl space, slab on grade, basement, non-basement, brick, or frame [1].

Community members must also understand that radon is present in drinking water and that higher concentrations of the gas occur in groundwater sources such as springs, wells, and boreholes than in surface water from rivers, streams, and lakes [1].

Community Intervention

Many interventions are effective for exposure risk reduction.  First, physicians can include an item on patient history questionnaires to enhance awareness of this public health problem.  For example, they can inquire about home tests for radon and how long ago, if ever, they have taken place.  Doctor’s offices can also circulate literature about the risks [1].

Second, advocacy groups have conducted surveys and used the news media to increase awareness about radon.  Social media, brochures, webinars, and blogs are useful for dissemination of information about any public health issue.  Health fairs are another valuable approach for the community [1].

Fund-raisers may involve walks, runs, and climbs.  Advocates can contact local, state, and federal agencies in order to effect change in the community.  Formation of coalitions with other health care organizations, particularly those which focus their efforts on respiratory disease, will strengthen the efforts of non-profit organizations and advocacy groups [1].


The public health risks of radon are not new, as it occurs naturally; however, modern communication systems will enable health workers to address it much better than in the past.


  1. University at Albany.  School of Public Health.  (2013).  Prescription for radon.  Retrieved December 13, 2013.
  2. World Health Organization.  (2009).  Radon and cancer.  Fact sheet.  Retrieved December 13, 2013.
  3. The photograph shows the Three Mile Island nuclear power plant in Pennsylvania and is reprinted with permission from Centers for Disease Control.


The information contained in this article is for educational purposes only and should not be used for diagnosis or to guide treatment without the opinion of a health professional. Any reader who is concerned about his or her health should contact their physician for advice.


Updated: 12/22/2013, Michael_Koger
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