Symptoms of Radon Poisoning in Humans – Is There Any?

It is very common for us to be familiar with the damaging effects of toxic gases in our surroundings, such as carbon monoxide and methane. Yet, other naturally-occurring gases are beyond our awareness. One of these is radon which can be damaging to our health. Since radon exposure is not common knowledge for us, it is essential to know the symptoms of radon poisoning in humans.

If this topic sounds interesting to you, then read with us until the end. We have a brief explanation about radon gases and their way of affecting the health of humans and other living creatures. Aside from that, indications of the presence of radon inside the human body and other animals are also here. So hang on and don’t miss out on those things! 

Symptoms of Radon Poisoning in Humans: Defining Radon

symptoms of radon poisoning in humans

Radon, basically, is another type of gas present in our surroundings. The process of its occurrence normally starts from uranium which is a heavy metal situated on natural earth’s rocks and ground. The moment uranium decomposes, it will be converted and becomes radium, another type of earth metal. Now, radon occurs if uranium decomposed.

Radon combines in the air and water once its gas state leaves the soil. So, this means radon is always present around in the environment. The good thing is that it only occurs naturally in our surrounding in a minimal amount. That means the presence of radon is not harmful to humans.

However, they always say that everything in excess is dangerous. This applies true to radon. Large amounts of this gas may result in different health concerns. Breathing it in large amounts for a long period can be toxic.

That’s why curiosity about the symptoms of radon poisoning in humans arise. Since radon is around us naturally, how do we know if we already inhale a large quantity of it?

Radon and Human’s Health

Inhaling radon directly goes into the linings of the lungs and emits radiation. As a time being, as this natural gas stays longer on the lungs, it can cause damage within the cells. Eventually, this will then result in lung cancer.

In fact, the secondary cause of lung cancer next to cigarette smoking is radon exposure. Moreover, the probability of having lung cancer will be generally high if you smoke and you inhaled significant levels of radon simultaneously.

People who died from lung cancer due to radon hit at around 21,000 people every year. Aside from that, other kinds of cancer have been connected to radon. These include leukemia in children. Yet, there is no sufficient evidence to support it.

Radon and Human Exposure

Most of the premises around us are situated within the ground where radon is abundantly present. This natural gas can escape from there and get indoors through floor cracks or open crevices. Because of that, it may possibly cause symptoms of radon poisoning in humans via the occurrence of lung cancer.

The highest levels of radon are usually seen in closed areas like the basement and crawl spaces. This is due to the reason that these places are near the ground. Moreover, some house or building materials have the potential to give off significant levels of radon because of their natural components. Concrete, wallboard, and granite countertops are examples of these materials.

Although they can emit generally low amounts of radon, their level inside the home might increase. But not to a level that can trigger danger. If your workplace is within the ground or focuses on phosphate fertilizer, it may get you in direct contact with radon.

Aside from that, bodies of water, such as lakes and rivers, may also be a source of radon. Yet, before the levels of radon take into your water at home, the radon releases into the air. Moreover, expect to acquire a high level of radon from natural water sources than from water treatment area.

Symptoms of Radon Poisoning in Humans

Since we have been exposed to this kind of natural gas, radon may affect our health. And, the worse will end up with more serious health problems. That’s why knowing the symptoms of radon poisoning in humans is very crucial.

However, the truth is radon exposure won’t give any signs or manifestations in the beginning. Rather, health problems due to exposure from it may show up after long periods. The best example of this is lung cancer.

Generally, the symptoms of lung cancer due to radon poisoning in humans are the following:

symptoms of radon poisoning in humans
  • Nagging cough
  • Shortness of breath
  • Persistent wheezing
  • Blood on cough
  • Chest pain
  • Weight loss

In case one of these signs occurs, immediately call the doctor and report this health-related incidence. Unfortunately, no medical diagnostic tests are available to reveal radon inhalation. Moreover, no treatments are also present to clear out this natural gas inside your body.

Human Exposure to Radon – Reasons Why There are No Manifestations at All

Actually, this may be more of a scientific basis, but let us try to discuss this in simpler ways. The primary reason behind the damaging effect of radon compared to other gases is its process of fast decomposition. Since the decay takes place at a faster rate, high numbers of alpha particles are emitted when radon gas is inside the lungs.

Basically, if there would be symptoms of radon poisoning, we must have to be very cautious about the radiation damage. This damage due to radiation generally has minimal or no sensitivity at all, and we are not totally aware of it. Because of it, no symptoms of radon poisoning has been manifested.

Signs of Radon Poisoning in Pets

Our pets are the other inhabitants inside our home. Since radon can be high within our premise without knowing it, all of us, including our pets, may acquire radon poisoning. However, symptoms of radon poisoning in humans may not occur at an early stage. How about for our pets?

Indication of Dog Poisoning from Radon Gas

Just like in humans, inhaling a relevant amount of radon gas may also cause respiratory problems for dogs. Byproducts of radon like the bismuth, lead, and polonium may result in the sticking of these harmful substances on the cells within the dog’s lungs. Eventually, this will then lead canines to be at a higher risk of cancer.

Moreover, since these chemicals present on radon are carcinogenic in dogs, gene mutation will take place. Additionally, the dogs will also develop a malignant tumour, epidermal carcinomas, and skin masses. In case your dog already acquires cancer, the following indication of radon poisoning will most likely occur:

  • Abnormal swelling
  • Breathing problems
  • Coughing
  • Fever
  • Hacking
  • Lameness
  • Loss of appetite

Again, same with humans, the signs of radon poisoning may not show up early. So, diagnosing this problem on your dog too late will not able to save the life of your furry buddy. Luckily for dogs, early diagnosis for radon poisoning is highly possible, unlike in humans. Blood test, biopsy, physical examination, x-ray, and ultrasound are helpful ways to detect the presence of radon inside your dog’s body.

The bonus to this is that there are numbers of treatments to eradicate the manifestations of radon poisoning in dogs. Treatments range from immunotherapy, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and surgery. Moreover, a vet’s consultation is the best way to address this health-related issue of your dog.

Manifestation of Cat Poisoning from Radon Gas

Physically, cats are generally smaller than dogs. Aside from that, the cats have this natural behaviour of being closer to the ground compared to dogs. This puts them at higher risk to acquire radon poisoning. With that, cats may also develop lung cancer due to radon poisoning at any age.

However, the manifestation of radon poisoning in cats is not that clear. This is primarily due to the common occurrence of these symptoms in cats. Actually, it is very common for cats to have the wrong diagnosis for lung cancer and that of asthma.

Normally, cats suffering from lung cancer may have a cough but do not have any phlegm. Aside from that, here are the other symptoms of lung cancer in cats:

  • Breathing problems
  • Coughing with no phlegm
  • Coughing with blood
  • Lameness
  • Loss of appetite
  • Loss of weight
  • Lethargy

In case you suspect your cat having lung cancer due to radon poisoning, it is always better to go to the vet to get a quick and relevant diagnosis. Moreover, early-stage cancer for cats involves several treatment options, even if it is due to radon poisoning. So, better to have your cat tested for this immediately.

Different Test for Detecting the Presence of Radon at Home

Even if radon is present everywhere, the levels of this natural gas vary depending on the building or the premise. Well, testing your surrounding or your home for determining radon levels is one of the best ways to protect yourself and others, even your pets, from it.

Check here for the possible radon testing that you may consider doing inside your home.

 Short-term Radon Testing

In case you want to detect the radon levels inside your house immediately, you can generally do short-term radon testing. These tests identify the levels of radon for about 2 to 3 days. Moreover, if you plan to implement short-term testing for radon, don’t forget to keep the doors and windows closed. Aside from that, do not use fans that collect air to get inside.

Generally, short-term radon testing needs the following devices:

  • Alpha-track detectors
  • Charcoal canisters
  • Charcoal liquid scintillation detectors
  • Continuous monitors
  • Electrets ion chambers

Long-term Radon Testing

Basically, long-term radon testing can give you the notably precise outcomes of detecting the amounts of radon inside our home. The idea of this testing lies behind the amount of oscillation of radon in every single day or even months. Long-term testing usually determines the amounts of radon for a period of 90 days or longer.

The most common devices used for long-term radon testing are the alpha-track detector and the electrets ion chamber detector. Both of these testings are inexpensive and very easy to use. And they are both widely available at different hardware stores.

However, following the instructions indicated in the user’s manual is very important here. Doing so will also give you more accurate results. Generally, the basement or the lowest area in the house is the recommended place to put the test kits. The moment the long-term radon testing devices are all set in place, all you need to do is leave it there, and that’s it!

Once finished with the test, pack the device based on the instruction and send it for radon analysis. You just need to wait for a few weeks to have the result of radon testing.   

Things to Do if there are High Levels of Radon inside the House

Luckily, we can lower the levels of radon in our surroundings even if we do make a complete house overhaul. All you need to do is the following:

  • Basically, seal and caulk the cracks and crevices where the radon gas can possibly enter.
  • Set-up a vent pipe and fan system, which is a system that acts to reduce radon by suctioning the soil.
  • Place a layer below the slab or flooring. Make sure that the layer is gas-permeable as this permits the radon to transfer beneath the house.
  • Put on a plastic sheet and ensure that it is all over the gas-permeable layer.

Final Words

The symptoms of radon poisoning in humans generally occur as manifestations of lung cancer. Lung cancer is actually a result of long time exposure to high amounts of radon. It is clear now that radon is a natural gas that is also present in the environment. Since no symptoms are involved in this health-related issue, diagnosis and treatment in humans are also not available. But, thanks, as there are home remedies present to protect your home from the presence of radon and make it a safer place.