Can radon contaminate objects?

Radon is a colorless and odorless radioactive gas that can silently get inside a building, posing a significant threat to our health. It can get inside your house through gaps in walls, cracks in the foundation, and poorly ventilated spaces. Radon can contaminate various objects inside your home which could lead to serious respiratory problems if you are exposed for a long time. Understanding the potential dangers of radon and taking preventive measures is crucial to safeguarding your health and well-being. In this article, we will be discussing how radon can contaminate objects and what steps you can take to minimize its effects.

Sources of radon contamination

Radon is a radioactive gas formed through the natural decay of uranium found in soils and rocks. Houses that were built in regions that have radium-containing minerals are more prone to radon exposure. This odorless and colorless gas can infiltrate buildings and homes through gaps in walls, cracks in the foundation, and other entry points. Once it gets inside your home, it accumulates and attaches itself to various objects, especially in poorly ventilated or tightly sealed structures.

a room with radon contamination

How to know if there is radon contamination in your house?

How radon contaminates objects

The process through which radon contaminates objects is called radon adsorption. Once this radioactive gas infiltrates an indoor environment, it comes into contact with various surfaces such as walls, furniture, floors, and personal belongings. Some of the materials that have a higher affinity for radon adsorption include porous items like wood, paper, and fabric. The reason why they can be easily contaminated by radon is because their porous surfaces increase the ability to trap and retain the gas.

Once radon gas gets into contact with the object’s surface, it starts to decay into radioactive isotopes such as polonium-214 and polonium-218. These progenies are solid particles that become trapped within the porous structure of the object’s surface. When the isotopes continue to accumulate over time, it leads to increased levels of radioactivity on the object.

Implications of Radon Contamination on Objects

  • Health Concerns

Radon-contaminated objects can cause serious health problems to people living inside the building, especially if they are touched often or are close to occupants. Once the radon progeny on the surface of the object is disturbed, it releases alpha particles into the air which can be inhaled or ingested unknowingly. Prolonged exposure to the radioactive alpha particles of radon causes serious respiratory problems and health concerns to people living in the household.

  • Accumulation in enclosed spaces

Objects that are stored in enclosed spaces such as basements or storage rooms are more likely to be contaminated with radon. This happens as a result of limited ventilation and air exchange in the room. When this issue goes unchecked for a long time, the contaminated objects may act as reservoirs for radon and its particulates, leading to increased indoor levels of radon. These objects can cause radon exposure when they are touched or you are inside the basement.

  • Measurement and mitigation challenges

It can be quite difficult to detect the level of radon contamination on objects because the standard radon testing methods primarily focus on air concentrations. More specific techniques such as dust sampling and surface wiping may be necessary to accurately measure the radon levels on the affected objects. This makes it risky for DIY testing projects because you may get exposed if you don’t follow the right protocols. You may require professional help to accurately measure and mitigate radon exposure on contaminated objects.

How to prevent radon contamination on objects

The best ways to mitigate radon contamination on objects and reduce the associated health risk include improving indoor ventilation, sealing and caulking entry points, and regular cleaning. Improving your indoor ventilation decreases the potential for radon adsorption on objects because air circulation prevents it from settling. Properly sealing gaps and cracks in walls, floors, and foundations helps to minimize the entry points of radon gas into indoor spaces. It is also important to dust and clean objects regularly to remove radon progeny particles from surfaces. Regular cleaning reduces the potential for long-term accumulation of radon particles on objects.

Radon can contaminate objects once it infiltrates your indoor spaces and interacts with various surfaces. Porous materials like wood, paper, and fabric are more prone to radon contamination. Understanding the sources and mechanisms of how radon contaminates objects allows you to mitigate the problem and reduce potential health risks associated with long-term exposure. The best way to reduce radon contamination on objects is to implement proper ventilation, cleaning practices, and other mitigation techniques that keep the radioactive gas at bay.