What is the radon theory in the TV show, “The Office”? 

The below article talks about the Radon theory raised by viewers of the TV Show, “The Office”, along with some frequently asked questions about radon poisoning and its symptoms. 

What is the radon theory in the TV show, “The Office”? 

The Radon theory suggests that employees of Dunder Mifflin Paper Company Inc., in the fictional TV show, “The Office”, were exposed to Radon, and this had long-term effects on their behavior and general health; which can be observed through their behavior portrayal in the show, and the dismissive attitude of their boss to conduct air quality tests to identify radon and other air pollutant levels, could mean that employees in this fictional story could have experienced radon poisoning over the years of working with the company. 

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. 

The Office Radon Theory explained 

This theory put forward by one of the viewers of the show states that it is possible that employees of the fictional company Dunder Mifflin Paper Company Inc., could be facing the effects of long-term radon exposure. The viewer goes on to explain how the erratic behavior of various employees, along with other behavioral traits exhibited by these employees could be chalked up to the effects of radon poisoning. While the issue of needing to test for radon levels in the office has been brought up several times within the show, it is observed that these concerns are usually pushed away by their boss in the show. 

Evidence that supposedly claims to substantiate this theory includes the lowering of functional capabilities of certain characters in the show, increasingly erratic behavior by some characters, the comparison to other stable employees of the same company in a different branch (those who may not be affected by the radon poisoning), etc. Another theory suggests that one of the show’s fictional team, a documentary crew given the task of making a documentary out of the office in focus and its employees, may have pumped the office with radon, to make good content for their documentary. The erratic behaviors of the employees, along with the non-characteristic functioning of a “professional” office under the influence of radon could be viewed as “quality” content for the documentary crew. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs): What is the Office Radon theory? 

Is there a possibility that the employees in Dunder Mifflin Paper Company Inc. actually had radon poisoning?  

Contrary to the theories that have been raised from the TV show, the office, the symptoms of radon poisoning are as follows (NRD, n.d.): 

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

When do radon poisoning symptoms show up?

One of the main reasons that radon poisoning is as dangerous as it is lethal is because radon has the capability to build and form deposits in our body, and symptoms of radon poisoning may not appear until too late. It is also to be noted that initial symptoms of radon poisoning may look like the flu, due to which they may be dismissed and treated as generic flu or allergy. It has also been found that radon symptoms may show up late and aren’t diagnosed as radon poisoning until cancer has been identified or is close to being identified. This is one of the main reasons that several state governments and experts recommend periodical checking of indoor air quality levels so that tabs are being kept and mitigation strategy can be taken up as and when the problem arises, rather than waiting until physical health has deteriorated severely. 


BuzzFeed. (2019, August 04). 7 unsettling theories about “The Office” that actually make a lot of sense. Viewed on 01-29-2022. https://www.buzzfeed.com/callmekarina123/these-dark-theories-about-the-office-will-make-y-3mc1ycx8gj 

Hedash K. (2019, December 11). The Office Theory: Dunder Mifflin suffered from Radon Poisoning. Screen Rant. Viewed on 01-29-2022. https://screenrant.com/office-show-dunder-mifflin-radon-poisoning-theory/#:~:text=The%20Office’s%20Radon%20Theory%20Explained&text=The%20radioactive%20chemical%20can%20cause,to%20radon%20at%20the%20office

National Radon Defense (NRD). (n.d.). Radon Symptoms. Viewed on 01-29-2022. https://www.nationalradondefense.com/radon-information/radon-symptoms.html 

Sherrard M. (2021, April 15). The Toby moment that supports this wild fan theory for the Office. Looper. Viewed on 01-29-2022. https://www.looper.com/383873/the-toby-moment-that-supports-this-wild-fan-theory-for-the-office/ 

World Health Organization (WHO). (2021, February 02). Radon and Health. Fact Sheets. Viewed on 01-29-2022. https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/radon-and-health