Radon is a radioactive gas caused by the decay of uranium in rocks and soil. It is making its way across the south of England and Wales and kills more than 1,100 people a year in the UK
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An invisible killer gas could be lurking in homes across the country.
The silent killer, radon, is a natural radioactive gas that can cause cancer.
The colourless and odourless gas comes from decaying uranium in rocks and soil and is rampaging its way across the south of England and Wales.
It is formed by the radioactive decay of the small amounts of uranium that occur naturally in all rocks and soils.
Radioactive elements decay and emit radiation and any exposure of this is a risk to health. According to Public Health England, radon causes more than 1,100 deaths from lung cancer every year in the UK.
Every building contains radon but the levels are usually low and the chances of a higher level depend on the type of ground.
Radioactive elements formed by the decay of radon can be inhaled and transferred into the lungs.
Once there, these elements continue to decay and emit radiation, most importantly alpha particles.
These are absorbed by the lung tissues and cause localised damage which can lead to lung cancer.
Levels that are classed as above average have been detected in Cornwall.
Radon is the second-highest cause of lung cancer.
The Government says radon is the largest and most variable contributor of radiation dose to the general population. CornwallLive reports the majority of homes in Cornwall are in the highest category of radon-affected areas because of a large granite presence in the area.
The areas most affected include Bodmin Moor, Penzance, St Austell, Camborne, Redrith and Helston.
It means that people living in homes there have a higher risk of radiation absorption compared to if they worked at a nuclear plant.
At least one per cent of homes have levels of the gas above the “Action Level,” meaning preventative measures should be put in place.
In Wales, exposure is also very high. Areas in the Peak District and the Yorkshire Dales also are in the highest radon exposure category.
CornwallLive reports that the longer someone is exposed to the gas, the greater the risk. The greatest risk is posed to people who are already smokers and who live in the high-radiation area.
But, levels of radon can be reduced by sealing around loft hatches and large openings in floors. Extra ventilation can also be put into homes.