As a homeowner, you’re well aware of the importance of installing smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, but there’s another airborne risk you should know about to protect your family: radon gas.
What is radon?
When naturally occurring uranium in the ground breaks down, it produces a radioactive gas called radon. Radon is colourless and odourless, so you won’t see or smell it; but, if it collects and accumulates in confined spaces, it can be hazardous to your health.
Radon is found in most houses, but at varying levels. The amount of radon in your home depends on your ventilation, the number of entry points such as foundation cracks, pipes and floor drains, and the amount of uranium in the ground. Even new houses can have dangerous levels of radon gas.
Why should I be concerned?
Next to smoking, radon is the leading cause of lung cancer, attributable to 16% of lung cancer deaths in Canada per year. Canadian standards recommend that homeowners take corrective action if the radon concentration in their home is more than 200 becquerels per cubic metre (Bq/m3). The only way to find out how much radon is in your home is to test for it.
How can I test for radon?
Radon test kits cost between $30 and $60. You can pick one up from your local hardware store or order one online. Health Canada recommends using a long-term radon test kit that comes with a radon detector. Most kits require exposure to the air in your home for a minimum of three months, in a commonly used area at, or near, the lowest level. The best time to test is in the winter when windows and doors are closed. For best results, make sure you follow the directions provided in the test kit.
You can also hire a certified radon measurement professional to measure your home for radon gas.
How can I fix a radon problem?
If your radon test kit finds levels above 200 Bq/m3 in your home, your best option is to hire a professional who can suggest an appropriate solution, which typically involves installing a pipe in your foundation that draws the gas out with a fan.
Visit the Government of Canada website for more information.