Once you start to learn about radon gas, its properties and how it effects our health its not much of a leap to realize radon poses some of the same dangers to our pets as it does to us. As a radon professional it is obvious that in many situations the potential hazards to a pet could even be much greater than to us. I had a very wonderful German Shepherd dog that died , I believe from what the vet thought was lung cancer. It seems to be a common disease for pets, at least in this area of central New York. I happen to live in a high risk radon county. And all three counties where I lived with this German Shepherd were also high risk radon counties.
Studies of animals have shown that dogs, mice and rats, whose lungs are similar to humans, are also at increased risk of contracting lung cancer from exposure to radon and radon decay products in the same way humans are. See the page on Radon Health Effects.
When you think about the life of the average dog or cat, and a lot of other pets such as birds and rodents, many of them spend more time in the house than we do. Where do they spend their time in our homes? Dogs and cats anyways are on the floor most of the time, if they are good pets that is, ha.
If you read the instructions for any radon testing kit or device they should be up off the floor at least 30 inches or so. The reason for that is that radon’s harmful decay products or progeny are electrically charged particles that quickly attach themselves to dust or anything else. If your house is like mine, most of the dust is on or near the floor. If a radon test is done too close to the floor it is no a valid test because it will usually get a radon level reading that is much higher than at normal breathing level for an adult, either sitting or standing.
For this reason young children and especially toddlers crawling on the floor are at much higher risk than adults. Another factor is the heart rate of most pets as well as children is much faster than that of adults, pulling more radon and it’s radioactive progeny into their lungs. Even though their lungs are smaller, they are more efficient, and most adults are quiet sedentary and breathe very shallowly most of the time. Also stay at home moms with children and the family pets usually spend a lot more time at home.
I will be starting a blog or forum soon on this topic. I would be glad to hear some other peoples thoughts and stories on this topic.
Dog saves people from radon
Source: Jay Bauder, Bauder Basement Systems, Inc.
Back in the late 80′s, I had a client whose dog died prematurely. They took it to the vet and x-rays showed the dog died from lung cancer. They then tested their home and found radon concentrations of 150 pCi/l! The owners stated that their dog probably saved their lives.