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Radon (originally from decayed Uranium) is released during the recoil of an alpha particle decay (essentially a helium nucleus) from Radium 226 - the alpha particle itself is destructive radiation for cells - but it is the ejected radon atom as it moves from radium 226 through radon 222 (ejecting a helium atom) that causes issues for us - until radon 222 decays with a half life of 4 days into Polonium (very toxic). Polonium decays within 3 min into ordinary lead.  Even though Radon 222 has a small half life of 4 days - it is under constant replacement because it is a gas and being ejected at a rate of 10-50 percent from the pores inside soil when the ejected radon is near the surface and the vector of the alpha particle emission is in the right angle -