is a chemical element with the atomic number 86, and is represented by the symbol Rn. It is aradioactive, colorless, odorless, tasteless noble gas, occurring naturally as the decay product of uranium or thorium. Its most stable isotope, 222Rn, has a half-life of 3.8 days. Radon is one of the densest substances that remains a gas under normal conditions. It is also the only gas that only has radioactive isotopes, and is considered a health hazard due to its radioactivity. Intense radioactivity has also hindered chemical studies of radon and only a few compounds are known.
Radon is formed as part of the normal radioactive decay chain of uranium and thorium. Uranium and thorium have been around since the earth was formed and their most common isotope has a very long half-life (4.5 billion years). Uranium and thorium, radium, and thus radon, will continue to occur for millions of years at about the same concentrations as they do now. As the radioactive gas of radon decays, it produces new radioactive elements called radon daughters or decay products. Radon daughters are solids and stick to surfaces such as dust particles in the air. If contaminated dust is inhaled, these particles can stick to the airways of the lung and increase the risk of developing lung cancer.
Radon is responsible for the majority of the public exposure to ionizing radiation. It is often the single largest contributor to an individual's background radiation dose, and is the most variable from location to location. Radon gas from natural sources can accumulate in buildings, especially in confined areas such as attics and basements. It can also be found in some spring waters and hot springs.]