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C&EN En Español

Infografias Periodicas: ¿Cuáles son los riesgos del radón?

El profesor de química y bloguero de Compound Interest Andy Brunning explica cómo el radón puede entrar en nuestros hogares y qué riesgos plantea el elemento radiactivo

by Andy Brunning, special to C&EN
August 30, 2021 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 99, Issue 31


Infographic on the risks of radon. 

Naturally occurring radon accounts for most of the background radiation we're exposed to. Higher radon levels in buildings pose a risk to our health.

Uranium isotopes in the ground undergo radioactive decay into other elements, including radium, which decays to produce radon. Radon itself decays into other radioactive elements.

A diagram shows the decay chain that produces radium.

Radon is a gas that emanates from the ground, particularly in areas with lots of granite or shale in the soil. Radon accumulates in confined parts of houses, particularly in basements.

A diagram shows the scale on which radon is measured in picocuries per liter of air. The average indoor level is 1.3 pCi/L, 2.7 is the World Health Organization radon action level, and 4.0 is the US Environmental Protection Agency radon action level.

Radon can be detected via α track detectors, in which α particles produced by radon make microscopic damage tracks on a plastic material; activated carbon adsorption, in which activated carbon adsorbs radon and the emitted radiation is measured; electret ion chambers, in which negative ions created from radon radiation reduce the charge on a Teflon disk; and continuous monitoring methods, which continuously measure and record radon and its decay products.
One in 15 US homes are estimated to have radon levels above the EPA’s action level. Radon is a major cause of lung cancer and causes an estimated 21,000 lung cancer deaths per year in the US.

Para descargar el pdf de este artículo:

Referencias usadas para crear esta infografía:

Hanson, David J. “Living with Radon.” Chemical & Engineering News, Aug. 22, 2011.

World Health Organization. “Radon and Health.” Feb. 2, 2021.

Zeeb, Hajo, and Ferid Shannoun, eds. WHO Handbook on Indoor Radon: A Public Health Perspective. Geneva: World Health Organization, 2009.

Una colaboración entre C&EN y Andy Brunning, autor del blog de los famosos gráficos de Compound Interest (

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La versión original (en inglés) del artículo está disponible aquí..



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