Chemical element, chemical symbol Rn, atomic number 86. The heaviest noble gas, it is colourless, odourless, tasteless, radioactive (see radioactivity), and almost completely unreactive (forming compounds only with fluorine). It is rare in nature because all its isotopes are short-lived and because radium, its source, is scarce. Radon seeps from certain soils and rocks (such as granite) into the atmosphere and can accumulate in poorly ventilated spaces near ground level, including house basements; in some regions of the world the use of such spaces is believed to increase the risk of lung cancer more than any other common factor except smoking. Radon is used in radiotherapy, radiography, and research.
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