Removing this invisible health hazard

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) says radon is a health hazard with a simple solution - "Test. Fix. Save a life." Health Canada says "Don't Ignore It! Radon Is A Serious Health Issue”.
Why all the concern about radon in the home?

What is radon?

Radon is a radioactive gas naturally produced when the uranium in soil and rock breaks down. It is invisible, odorless, and tasteless which makes it impossible for homeowners to identify without professional testing. When radon is released in enclosed spaces, like homes, it can sometimes accumulate to high levels, which can be a risk to the health of the occupants. Since radon is a heavy gas, its concentration tends to be in the lowest point of the dwelling; the basement or crawlspace. However, if concentrations are high, it will make its presence known throughout the entire home.

Long-term exposure and lung cancer

Studies show that long-term exposure to radon is the 2nd leading cause of lung cancer after smoking and the leading cause of lung cancer for people who have never smoked. As radon breaks down it forms radioactive particles that can get lodged into lung tissue as we breathe. The radon particles then release energy that can damage lung cells. When lung cells are damaged, they have the potential to result in cancer. Not everyone exposed to radon will develop lung cancer, and the time between exposure and the onset of the disease can take many years.

Identifying if there is a radon problem

The first step is to identify if the home has a radon problem by purchasing a do-it-yourself radon test kit or hiring a radon measurement professional. It is recommended that you do a long-term test over a three-month period. The best time to conduct the recommended long-term test is in the late fall and winter when the house is more closed up against the cold.

In the United-States, the EPA states that actions must be taken for if the annual average radon concentration in a regularly used room is above 150 Bq/m3 (4 pCi/L). Health Canada has placed a guideline that a home must not exceed an average annual radon concentration of 200 Bq/m3 (5.4 pCi/L) in the normal occupancy area.

Taking action to reduce radon levels

If the radon levels are high, it is important to begin remedying the situation as soon as possible. Using a certified radon mitigation contractor will ensure the job is done right. Removal techniques range from natural, forced, or heat recovery ventilation (HRV) to reducing a build-up of the gas to depressurizing techniques. A single method may do the job, but sometimes a combination of several methods must be used.

The EPA notes that when selecting a radon reduction method, the homeowner and their contractor should consider several things, including:

• the radon level in the home;
• the costs of installation and system operation;
• the home's size and foundation type.

Health Canada claims that “radon levels in most homes can be reduced by more than 80% for about the same cost as other common home repairs such as replacing the furnace or air conditioner.”

The facts are clear. Removing high concentrations of radon gas is vital for the health of all occupants in a home or building.

For more useful tips and downloadable brochures on radon removal visit:

https://www.epa.gov/radon

https://www.canada.ca/en/health-canada/services/environmental-workplace-health/reports-publications/radiation/radon-reduction-guide-canadians-health-canada-2013.html