It’s no secret radon is dangerous a radioactive gas. Radon is emitted from the soil that can seep into homes and buildings through cracks inhaling. It has been linked to lung cancer killing an estimated 21 thousand people a year, It is clear that Radon has an effect on humans. But consumer reports say, if you’ve set your sights on a home with dangerous levels of radon don’t panic right on related deaths are due to exposure over the course of a lifetime.
Chemical Properties of Radon
- Atomic number = 86
- Electronic configuration = [ Xe ] 4f14 5d10 6s2 6p6
- Atomic mass = 222 g.mol-1
- Melting point = -71 oC
- Boiling point = -61,8 oC
- Density = 9.73 kg.m-3
- ∆Hfus = 2.89 kJ.mol-1
- ∆Hvap = 16.4 kJ.mol-1
- Heat coductivity = 3.6 x 10-5 W.cm-1.K-1
- Volume mass = 9.96 x 10-3 g.cm3 at 20 oC
- Isotopes = 1 radioactive isotope
- First ionization energy = 1037 kJ.mol-1
Discovered in 1899, radon is a gas of natural origin, emanating from the ground, odorless, colorless, tasteless. It is a rare gas, therefore chemically inert, but water-soluble. Radon is usually diluted rapidly in the atmosphere as soon as it reaches the surface of the ground.
Radon migrates from the ground to the atmosphere where it is present in minute quantities. Its concentration varies greatly in space and time, depending in particular on geology, weather conditions.
It would only be given anecdotal interest if it was not, because of its extreme radioactivity, the leading cause of radiation among natural sources of radiation. Inhalation of radon and its descendants accounts for one-third of the average exposure to ionizing radiation for the population.
Located in Mendeleiev’s painting between uranium and lead, radon is a heavy atom. Its density is the highest of all gases. It tends to accumulate in enclosed spaces such as houses.
Read more about Is Helium a Noble Gas
What Are The Effects of Radon on Humans?
Radon is naturally present in the environment mainly in the gas phase. As a result, people are primarily exposed to it by breathing in the air. The level of radon in the outdoor air is generally quite low, but in indoor areas, the level may be higher.
In homes, schools, and buildings, radon levels are higher because radon, which is mainly found in soils and rocks, can enter the building through cracks in foundations and basements.
Some deep wells that supply us with drinking water may also contain radon. So some people may be exposed to radon through drinking water.Radon levels in groundwater are quite high, but radon is generally released into the air fairly quickly as soon as it reaches surface waters.
Breathing in high levels of radon causes lung disease. Long-term exposure may even increase the risk of developing cancer (but this after several years of exposure).
Radon may be radioactive, but it can release real gamma radiation.
Therefore, it is unlikely to be confronted with the harmful effects of radon radiation if there is no real contact with radon compounds. It is not known whether radon can be harmful to organs other than the lungs. The effects of radon in food or drinking water are not known.
Effects of Radon on The Environment
Radon is a radioactive gas that is not present naturally in the environment. Most of the radon found in the environment comes from human activities. It then comes from the burning of coal or the exploitation of uranium and phosphate mines.
Some of the radon in the soil can move the surface and end up in the air by vaporization. In the air, radon compounds bind to dust and other particles. Soil radon can also reach groundwater. However, most radon remains in the soil.
Radon has a half-life time of about 4 days. This means that out of a certain amount of radon, every 4 days, half degrade into other compounds, usually less dangerous.
Common Uses of Radon
- Radon was used around 1950 to paint the numbers on watches so that the numbers would glow. However, because of its radioactivity, Rn is not used anymore.
- Radon is used for cancer treatments. Rn that is radioactive is inserted into a small tube. The tube is closed and placed near the body cells that are infected by cancer.
- Radon provides an early warning system for earthquakes. Radon comes from the decay of U and Ra in the rocks. When the plates move, the concentration of Radon will increase as Rn is released from rocks. The concentration of Radon is an indicator for forecasting earthquakes.
Read more about Properties of Noble Gases
The Alpha Decay of Radon
Radon comes from the decay of uranium in the Earth’s crust. As a result, it is found everywhere on the surface of the earth. Its radioactive period of 3.82 days is very short, but it is regenerated as a member of the radioactive lineage of uranium-238. Although uranium is a rare natural element, it is present in most rocks and especially in granite and volcanic subs soils.
The harmfulness of radon – an inert gas – is mainly due to the alpha decays of its descendants who are neither gaseous nor inert. The decay of its nucleus produces polonium-218, which then successively transforms into lead-214, bismuth-214, and polonium-214 to lead-210.
This series of transformations take place in a time interval, variable from one nucleus to another, which is in the order of the hour. This delay gives the first three descendants (polonium-218, lead-214, bismuth-214) time to attach themselves to microscopic particles that, if inhaled, will settle on lung cells.
The next descendant, polonium-214, does not have time to attach to the lungs by inhalation as its lifespan is 1.6 hundredth of a second. Alpha emitters attached to lung cells are dangerous. Alpha rays are much more harmful in contact with living matter than beta rays because they deposit their energy in a very concentrated way.
If this energy is combined with the damage caused, polonium-218, which emits a 6.0 MeV alpha particle and a second of 7.69 MeV when it passes through the polonium-214 stage, is the most harmful of the offspring. The following three descendants, which emit only the 7.69 MeV alpha of polonium-214, possess less potential alpha energy.