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Radon gas is present in the air in varying amounts. High levels of radon gas in homes and buildings are harmful to the body, frequently leading to cancer of the lungs in individuals often exposed to it. Most of radon symptoms, like difficulty breathing, chest pains, presence of blood with coughing, persistent attacks of cough, hoarseness, and frequent respiratory tract infections are non-specific symptoms which could also point to many other causes. This makes poisoning with radon very dangerous as there are generally no specific signs and symptoms for its early detection. The symptoms of lung cancer are often those first observed as effects of radon poisoning.
Buildings and closed spaces, like home basements and mines, can accumulate high amount of radon gas in the air. Radon is a byproduct of uranium, which is naturally found in the soil. It is a radioactive gas which has no odor, taste, or color. The gas can penetrate through the walls in buildings and accumulate in poorly ventilated spaces. Open spaces and well-ventilated rooms usually pose lesser risk for radon poisoning.
People are mostly unaware of inhaling radon from the air. The radioactive element can accumulate in the lungs and can cause radiation damage to the cells of the body. With this, mutations in the DNA can result, which may lead to cancer formation in the lungs. This makes radon poisoning the second-highest cause of lung cancer, after smoking.
Radon levels vary from place to place. Some areas in a neighborhood can have very high levels while other locations only have minimal amounts. To determine radon levels, there are kits available which can be placed in homes and buildings. There are also some companies which offer services for testing radon levels in certain areas.
Few people, however, are aware of radon poisoning and its harmful effects to the body. As radon symptoms are mostly non-specific, this usually makes diagnosis difficult during the first consultations. When lung cancer has developed, management and treatment are usually focused on the cancer rather than on any specific radon symptoms.
Environmentalists advocate awareness about radon and its effects to people. Some preventive practices include testing homes and buildings for radon levels, encouraging ventilation in closed spaces, and sealing cracks in walls and floors. Anyone who experiences symptoms similar to radon symptoms are also encouraged to seek medical consultation for diagnosis and proper medical intervention.