Many residents are testing their homes for radon. But what is radon and why should we be testing for it?
Radon is a radioactive gas that occurs naturally when uranium in soil and rocks breaks down. Similar to carbon monoxide, radon is invisible, odourless and tasteless.
While radon is produced naturally and can be released into the air, it is harmless when diluted into the outdoor air. However, it can accumulate at high levels when contained in a home.
Radon can get into homes through any openings in contact with the ground including cracks in foundation walls or floor slabs, construction joints, gaps around service pipes, support posts, window casements, floor drains, sumps or cavities inside of walls.
The gas can be damaging to your lungs. According to Health Canada, radon is the number one cause of lung cancer among non-smokers. The risk significantly increases among smokers.
Health Canada statistics show that about 3,200 people die each year in Canada from radon-induced lung cancer.
All homes will have radon in them. The Canadian guideline for radon indoors is 200 becquerels per cubic metre. The only way to detect radon levels in your home is to do a test.
Radon test kits can be bought at most hardware stores and are relatively inexpensive, between $30 to $60 depending on the kit. Tests should be conducted in the lowest lived-in level of the home meaning the lowest level that is used or occupied for more than four hours each day.
The other alternative is to hire a radon measurement specialist who can do long-term readings that are food for at least three months.
Health Canada recommends that you should test your home every few years.
If you find your radon levels are about 200 becquerels per cubic metre, hire a mitigation specialist. According to Health Canada, radon reduction mitigation can cost between $2,000 to $4,000 depending on the home and the work that needs to be done.
You can find out more information about radon on the Health Canada website.
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