What is this? I thought we were talking about Radon here, not lead! Well, understanding the chemistry of Radon and it’s decomposition pathway, will help you understand why this is the case. Radon is a decay product of Uranium in rock and soil. It is an element that exists as a gas at normal temperatures, and it is also radioactive in and of itself.
When you breath in radon it is normally exhailed, and nothing happens. The problem is, that radon radomly decays further into other products, which can cause problems for people. Some atoms of radon will decay into a form of lead (Pb) and Bismuth that is radio active and can get caught into your lungs. The final version of lead has a life of about 22 years. This means that this radio active lead atom (Pb 210) can be sitting in your lungs for dozens of years exposing you to radio active decay particles and increasing your chances for several different types of cancer, including lung cancer.
For those that are interested in the entire decay process see the following:
Radon (Rn222) does an alpha decay into Polonium (Po218) with a half life of 3.824 days. Polonium (Po218) does an alpha decay into Lead (Pb214) with a half life of 3.05 minutes. Lead (Pb214) does a beta decay into Bismuth (Bi214) with a half life of 26.8 minutes. Bismuth (Bi214) does a beta decay into Polonium (Po214) with a half life of 19.8 minutes Polonium (Po214) does an alpha decay into Lead (Pb210) with a half life of 164 microseconds. Lead (Pb210) does a beta decay into Bismuth (Bi210) with a half life of 22.3 years.
Hopefully this goes a little ways into explaining the serious problem that radon gas causes for us in our environment. With this information you can help protect your family by insuring that your home is low in radon, both in air and in water.
Look for future articles where we will explain more about the home envasion of radon gas particles.