ATSDR - Toxic Substances - Radon
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Radon

CAS ID #: 14859-67-7, 10043-92-2

Affected Organ Systems: Respiratory (From the Nose to the Lungs)

Cancer Effects: Known to be a Human Carcinogen

Chemical Classification: Inorganic substances, Radionuclides (radioactive materials)

Summary: Radon is a naturally occurring radioactive gas that is odorless and tasteless. It is formed from the radioactive decay of uranium. Uranium is found in small amounts in most rocks and soil. It slowly breaks down to other products such as radium, which breaks down to radon. Radon also undergoes radioactive decay. It divides into two parts-one part is called radiation, and the other part is called a daughter. The daughter, like radon, is not stable, and it also divides into radiation and another daughter. The dividing of daughters continues until a stable, nonradioactive daughter is formed. During the decay process, alpha, beta, and gamma radiation are released. Alpha particles can travel only a short distance and cannot travel through your skin. Beta particles can penetrate through your skin, but they cannot go all the way through your body. Gamma radiation can go all the way through your body. Radon is no longer used in the treatment of various diseases including cancer, arthritis, diabetes, and ulcers. Radon is used to predict earthquakes, in the study of atmospheric transport, and in exploration for petroleum and uranium.

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