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Radon gas, health effects: health risks related to the presence of radon gas in the air, soil, water and domestic environment.
The effects of radon gas on healthhave been known for some time, unfortunately, however, in Italy there is a lack of laws governing their monitoring and reduction. For the first regulatory references we will have to wait until 2018 when our country will be forced to implement theEuropean Directive 59/2013.
What is radon gas
It's anatural gaswhich is present in the soil, air and water. This gas, at certain concentrations, becomes dangerous to health. Just like theneon, krypton and xenon is anoble gas.
It is released following the breakdown of uranium present in the soil and water: it is for this reason that theradon gasincrease following aearthquake.
Why is radon gas dangerous to health?
Because through the air we breathe it gets fixed in the lungs. It is colorless, odorless and tasteless, so it behaves like aslow and silent killerwe do not perceive the presence so we do not make efforts to carry out the appropriate prevention. It might interest:radon gas in the house.
Radon gas, health effects
Theradon gasit has been a known danger for some time, it is a radiation element continuously generated by some rocks of the earth's crust and to a greater extent by lava, tuff, pozzolane, granite ...radonit has been known since the 16th century and the effects exerted by this were immediately clearheavy gason our health.
In the sixteenth century, the alcimist, astrologer and Swiss doctor Paracelsus, highlighted a high mortality linked to lung diseases prevalent mainly among workers in the Schneeberg silver mines (land known asSaxony). Over the following years, with the intensification of the activities carried out in the mines of silver, copper and cobalt, deaths related to lung diseases increased. Historymedicalhad to wait until 1879 to give a name to this pathology identified aslung cancer.
In recent decades, several studies have been conducted on the damage to the health ofradon gas. Researches have shown how inhalations ofradon, at certain concentrations, they can increase the risk of lung cancer. The results of the studies state that theradon gasrepresents the second cause oflung cancerafter smoking.
WHO (World Health Organization), through the IARC (International Agency for Cancer Research), entered theradon gasin the list of the most dangerous carcinogens currently known (Group 1).
Radon gas in Italy
It is difficult to find updated data on the levels ofradon gas in Italy. The only official data available dates back to the early 1990s, almost three decades ago! Concentrations of radon gas can vary greatly over time based on the breakdown of uranium present in the soil, a phenomenon conditioned by earthquakes, seismic movements of various kinds and other factors.
At the time, the investigations were conducted by Enea (National Agency for New Technologies, Energy and Sustainable Economic Development)and fromCollege of Health, and showed that the levels ofradon gas in Italywere particularly high in some regions of the north and south-central, in particular, the regions showing the levels ofradon gashigher were:
- Friuli Venezia Giulia
In these regions the levels ofradon gasthey were between 120 - 100 Bequerel / m3. From the beginning of the 1990s to the present, official surveys have not been carried out on a national scale. The areas most at risk are those of volcanic origin, tests were not conducted in Sicily but it is presumable that, like Campania, also in this region there may be high levels of radon. Some regions have conducted surveys independently but without using a standardized measurement system (the levels of radon gas in Emilia Romagna, in 2008 they were much higher than the measurements made in the early 1990s). To have precise measurements euniforms we will have to wait for the transposition of the European directive n52 / 2013 which will be applied by November 2018.
Measure the radon levels
The concentration ofradon it can vary a lot from one moment of the day to another and is strongly influenced by the saturation of the soil in case of rain, snow, wind speed, seismic movements ... For these reasons, it is not easy to perform absolute measurements. There is no shortage of instruments on the market that allow you to measure radon levels at home or in open spaces, but these devices are difficult to manage because of the fluctuations in the concentrations of this gas.
Among the instruments we point out some kits that can work for a "certain number of times" or detection devices with digital display. The kits can be quite reliable but force the user to always buy new material in order to make an appropriate number of surveys. For illustrative purposes only, we recommend an easy-to-use Radon Gas Level Reading Monitor. It has sensors sensitive to radon fluctuations so as to perform long-term measurements. It is easy to use and the information collected is projected on the LCD display. The device is not cheap at all: it costs around 240 Euros.
The measurement of radon gas is also a methodology that could help us predict earthquakes in the future, as we anticipated in our article on seismic risk in Italy: mapwith the interactive map of the municipalities most at risk.
You may also be interested in the article "Earthquakes: CNR's early warning tools“