In December 1984, a construction engineer who lived in Boyertown, PA, triggered radiation monitors while entering the Limerick nuclear power plant near Philadelphia. He had not been contaminated by radioactive materials at the plant; therefore, his home in nearby Berks County was tested. The concentration of radon gas there was 2,700 pCi/L of air, a level much higher than had ever been measured in a residence in the United States. In January, the engineer, his wife, and their two small children were advised to leave the home immediately. The family had been exposed to radiation levels more than 50 times the annual occupational limit for uranium miners. Radon levels in an adjacent house were low but were extremely high in other nearby houses. This region of the country, known as the Reading Prong, which encompasses parts of Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York, has geologic deposits of low-grade uranium ore.
Radon gas, a relatively common natural indoor air pollutant is a radioactive decay product of uranium. Radon and its decay products have been shown to increase the risk of lung cancer in underground miners. More recently, radon has been recognized to be widespread in homes in the United States. An estimated 13,000 lung cancer deaths per year may be attributed to residential exposure to radon gas. In this statement the hazards of exposure to radon and its decay products, known as radon progeny or radon daughters, are reviewed.
NATURE AND SOURCES OF RADON
Radon is a colorless, odorless, inert radioactive gas.
- Copyright © 1989 by the American Academy of Pediatrics