Properties, Uses and Health effects of Radon


Radon is colorless at standard pressure and temperature and it is the most dense gas known. At temperature below it’s freezing point is has a pale yellow phosphorescence. It is remarkably radioactive, chemically unreactive and has a small half life.

Chemical Properties of Radon

Group18Melting point−71°C, −96°F, 202 K
Period6Boiling point−61.7°C, −79.1°F, 211.5 K
BlockpDensity (g cm3)0.009074
Atomic number86Relative atomic mass222
State at 20°CGasKey isotopes211Rn, 220Rn, 222Rn
Electron configuration[Xe] 4f145d106s26p6CAS number10043-92-2
ChemSpider ID23240ChemSpider is a free chemical structure database

What is Radon?

  1. Radon was first discovered as an emission from the radioactive decay of radium. Talk about discovering a new element out of a decay.
  2. In the air, its concentration changes from 1 to 100 Bq per cubic meter. In some places, well water could very well be rich in Radon. Even rainwater can be remarkably radioactive due to the high concentration of the element.
  3. It has an atomic number of 86 and is represented with the symbol Rn in the periodic table.
  4. Radon is abundant in hot springs.  Its concentration is commonly measured in becquerel ( Bq ) per cubic meter.

What are the physical properties of Radon

  • Radon (Rn) is a colourless, tasteless, odourless gas at standard pressure and temperature and it is the densest noble gas known.
  • At a temperature below its freezing point, it possesses a pale yellow phosphorescence.
  • It is highly radioactive and chemically unreactive.

Health effects of Radon

  • Radon occurs mainly in gaseous state and people are primarily exposed to it through breathing air. Exposure to the element through breathing may cause chronic lung disease. When you breathe in radon, harmful particles from radioactive radon can get caught in your lungs. Over time, these radioactive particles enhance the dangers of lung cancer. It may take years before chronic symptoms appear. After cigarette smoking, Radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer.
  • The best thing about radon is it will not have harmful effects without the actual contact with it. Although radioactive, it won’t hurt you if you don’t sniff or touch it. Good boy.

Applications and Effects of Radon


  • A method called Radon hormesis is used to mitigate auto-immune diseases like arthritis.
  • It is used in the treatment of cancer and cell damage. In the past, radon was used by doctors to treat cancer and other diseases. Doctors used to make it themselves by pumping radon from a radium source and covering it in small tubes called needles or seeds. The seeds were injected at or near the site of the tumor.
  • Radon is also extensively used in radiation therapy.


Radon is used to track air masses to a nominal level. Radon in the atmosphere can give important information on the the movement of pollutants, movement of continental air masses, and the containment or dispersion of toxic radioactive materials.

Changes in groundwater radon concentrations help us in the prediction of earthquakes. Researchers monitor radon released from the soil and when a greater amount is released, it means an earthquake is about to happen. Radon is released before the main shock when small cracks in the earth’s surface begin to move. This means an earthquake is near.

In the 1940s, radon was used in X-ray sources and industrial radiography.

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