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Radon

General Description

  • Synonyms: radon gas; alphatron; niton; radium emanation
  • OSHA IMIS Code Number: R100
  • Chemical Abstracts Service (CAS) Registry Number: 10043-92-2
  • NIOSH Registry of Toxic Effects of Chemical Substances (RTECS) Identification Number: VE3750000
  • Chemical Description and Physical Properties:
    • colorless, tasteless, odorless gas
    • element: Rn
    • atomic mass: 222
    • boiling point: -62°C
    • melting point: -71°C

Exposure Limits

  • OSHA Permissible Exposure Limit (PEL):

Health Factors

  • Carcinogenic Classification:
  • Potential Symptoms: Shortness of breath, chronic cough, pulmonary hypertension, cardiopulmonary failure.
  • Health Effects: Known human carcinogen - lung (HE2); Cumulative lung damage - pulmonary fibrosis (HE10).
  • Affected Organs: Lungs
  • Notes:
    1. Although the gas radon is an OSHA Select carcinogen, its effects may be mediated by particulate progeny (decay products) which also are radioactive.
    2. There is an increasing risk of lung cancer with increasing exposure to radon. A study of uranium miners indicated that the latency for the development of lung cancer was shorter in smokers (~19 years) than in nonsmokers (25 years).
    3. Diffuse interstitial fibrosis in lungs of uranium miners often leading to cor pulmonale and death by pneumonia or cardiac arrhythmias also has been attributed primarily to inhalation of radon (and its progeny).
    4. The Radiation Exposure Compensation Act (42 U.S.C. §2210 note) as amended by P.L. 107-273 provides for a payment of $100,000 to eligible workers with primary lung cancer and certain nonmalignant respiratory diseases who were employed in uranium mines, in uranium mills, or in the transport of uranium ore between 1942 and 1971.
  • Literature Basis:
    • International Chemical Safety Cards (WHO/IPCS/ILO): Radon.
    • EPA Air Toxics Website: Radionuclides (including Radon, Radium and Uranium). U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Technology Transfer Network.
    • U.S. Department of Justice: Radiation Exposure Compensation Program: About the Program (June 7, 2004) 5 pp.
    • Archer, V.E., Coons, T. Saccomanno, G. and Hong, D.Y.: Latency and the lung cancer epidemic among United States uranium miners. Health Phys. 87 (5): 480-489, 2004.
    • Archer, V.E., Renzetti, A.D., Doggett, R.S., Jarvis, J.Q. and Colby, T.V.: Chronic diffuse interstitial fibrosis of the lung in uranium miners. J. Occup. Environ. Med. 40 (5): 460-474, 1998.
    • Frumkin, H. and Samet, J.M.: Radon. CA Cancer J. Clin. 51 (6): 337-344, 2001.
  • Date Last Revised: 12/06/2005

Monitoring Methods used by OSHA

Primary Laboratory Sampling/Analytical Method (SLC1):
  • Electret-Passive Environmental Radon Monitor (E-PERM)
  • sampling time: 2-7 days
  • current analytical method: Voltage change on electret (dielectric) surface
  • method reference: OSHA Analytical Method (OSHA ID-208)
  • method classification: Partially Validated
  • note: OSHA personnel may obtain E-PERM sampler from the Salt Lake Technical Center.

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