Environmental Radon and Its Potential Health Effects

Environmental Radon and its Potential Health Effects

*Okunade, I. Olusola, Balogun, G. I. and Okunade, Aisha Kehinde

Centre for Energy Research and Training, Ahmadu Bello University, P.M.B. 1014, Zaria. E-mail : iookunade@yahoo.com  Dept. of Environmental Sciences, College of Environmental Studies, Kaduna Polytechnic, Kaduna, Nigeria

Accepted on March 10, 2008


Radon is a naturally occurring radioactive gas that is formed from uranium present throughout the earth crust. It is released into various homes from radon polluted outdoor air and movement of gases in the soil beneath homes and can become highly concentrated indoors when it is unable to disperse. Inhaled radon is mostly exhaled by humans, but prior to exhalation, its progeny, which are electrically charged radioactive elements can deposit into the lining of the lung, where they also emit alpha radiation. Alpha radiation has the potential to disrupt the DNA structure of the lung cells thereby initiating a cancerous condition. Radon has been conclusively shown in epidemiologic studies of underground miners to cause lung cancer and this is also supported by evidence from experimental studies of animals. Molecular and cellular studies also provide an understanding of the mechanisms by which radon causes lung cancer. In order to provide more understanding of the phenomenon of radon exposure, a review on the production of radon, its mode of release into the home and environment, exposure route and potential health effects are presented. Also presented were the various methods of measuring radon and the need to conduct nationwide radon survey in order to generate detailed data bank on radon exposure.

Download PDF