Can an air purifier with a HEPA filter remove Radon? 

The below article talks about HEPA filters, radon, whether HEPA filters can remove radon, if not- what filter could remove radon, and some frequently asked questions about radon and indoor air quality. 

Will my air purifier with HEPA filter remove the radon from my house?

A true HEPA filter can remove up to 99.99% of airborne contaminants in the air including various allergens such as pollen, pet dander, dust, dust mites, bacteria, disease-causing viruses, etc. However, they never were intended to trap or capture gas particles, due to which they are ineffective in terms of reducing radon concentrations in your home, living space, or any other space that may have high radon concentrations. 

Radon and HEPA filters

As mentioned previously, a HEPA filter was not built with the intention of trapping gas particles. They were designed to capture particles such as dust, allergens, bacteria, pollen, dust mites, etc., as is most air purifiers, they are made to attract and capture larger solid particles. To actually make a dent using an air purifier, with respect to reducing radon concentrations, the user must focus on acquiring an air purifier fitted with an activated carbon filter along with a HEPA filter. 

Activated carbon filters are made to capture offending gases and smells, which means it is capable of capturing the radon in your enclosed space. Carbon filters are capable of holding smaller particles than those in comparison to HEPA filter particles. This makes carbon filters effective in reducing offensive smells and gases that cannot otherwise be held by other types of air filters. 

About Radon 

Radon is a naturally occurring radioactive gas, that could have severe impacts on physical health, including the onset of lung cancer. Usually, radon is found in high concentrations in homes and workplaces, and since its tasteless, odorless, and colorless, it is usually not identified until there is a diagnosis of radon poisoning for someone exposed to high levels of radon. Radon is one of the leading causes in the world for lung cancer and has been found to contribute anywhere between 3% to 14% to all lung cancer cases in a country, depending on the national average of radon levels, and national radon emissions or strategies set in place. 

Radon is produced during the natural radioactive decay of uranium, which can be found in rocks or soils. It can also be found in different water bodies occasionally. Radon has the capability to escape from the ground and latch onto air molecules, where it would decay further and cause the emission of radioactive particles. Radon is capable of entering our bodies via breathing and is deposited in our nasal pathways and lung tissue, where prolonged exposure and deposit formation could cause the initiation of cancer in the person. 

Outdoor, radon can be diluted quickly and is only present in smaller concentrations that do not pose a threat to health, however, indoors, with limited ventilation, there is a possibility of increasing radon concentration and exposure, which could lead to severe health effects. Especially in places such as mines, caves, water treatment facilities, older buildings, etc. can have increased radon concentrations. Given the physical and chemical properties of radon, inhabitants and employees of such places could be potentially exposed to high levels of radon, which could cause them long-term distress and chronic health conditions. 

Symptoms of Radon Poisoning

Radon poisoning builds up eventually, and may not show symptoms until quite late. Usually, either during the diagnosis of cancer caused by radon poisoning or when you’re on the verge of a diagnosis. Therefore, it is always advised to keep an eye out for the below symptoms of radon poisoning that you may experience (NRD, n.d.): 

  • Persistent cough 
  • Changes in voice and increased hoarseness
  • Wheezing 
  • Respiratory difficulties 
  • Coughing up blood
  • Chest pain
  • Increased frequencies of bronchitis or pneumonia 
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Fatigue 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs): Can HEPA filters remove radon? 

Can opening windows help reduce radon?

Radon mitigation systems focus on either completely removing radon from the vicinity of human or animal exposure, or it focuses on reducing its concentrations to the point that it no longer affects those who are exposed to it. Part of the latter solution is done through ventilation, which could be by opening your windows and doors, installing ventilation systems, etc. amongst other radon mitigation strategies. Therefore, yes, opening your windows can reduce radon concentrations in your home or office space. 

Does a humidifier or a dehumidifier remove radon?

No, a humidifier or a dehumidifier is used to control the humidity levels in the space that it is placed in. Occasionally these devices could also have a diffuser that may help to refresh the air in the space with the help of essential oils, but it does not do anything for radon. Radon concentrations will not reduce by using a humidifier or a dehumidifier. 

Other FAQs about Air Purifiers and Filters that you may be interested in.

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References 

Anela. (2018, October 03). Does a dehumidifier help with radon? Home Detoxing. Viewed on 02-06-2022. https://homedetoxing.com/does-a-dehumidifier-help-with-radon/ 

Irene. (2021, December 29). Do air purifiers remove radon? (With facts). Fresh Air Devices. Viewed on 02-06-2022. https://freshairdevices.com/do-air-purifiers-remove-radon/ 

Johnston L. (2013, July 25). Reduce radon by opening windows. Renewal by Andersen. Viewed on 06-02-2022. https://www.rbacentralpa.com/home/reduce-radon-by-opening-windows/ 

National Radon Defense (NRD). (n.d.). Radon Symptoms. Viewed on 02-06-2022. https://www.nationalradondefense.com/radon-information/radon-symptoms.html 

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