What is Radon?
Radon is a naturally occurring radioactive gas, you can’t see it, taste it, or smell it. Radon is formed from the natural decay of uranium in soil, rock and water. It can be found in almost all soil types and is found all over the world. 55% of the total radiation we are exposed to comes from radon. Even outdoor air we breath will have some levels of radon gas.
Why is radon gas dangerous?
Radon is a known carcinogen to humans and is the leading cause of lung cancer in non smokers today. In Canada about 2000 people will die each year from lung cancer due to exposure to radon gas. In a recent study combined data from across North America estimate that ones risk of developing lung cancer increases by 11% per 100 becquerels per cubic meter (Bq/m³) increase in radon concentration, with no apparent safe level of exposure. If your home has high levels of radon gas and you smoke your risk of developing lung cancer is especially high.
How does radon gas enter homes?
Radon is a radioactive gas that is formed from the natural decay of uranium. It typically moves up through the ground into the air above and can enter a home through cracks and holes in the foundation and sometimes it may even enter through well water. Your home traps radon gas inside and can build up to high levels. Radon can be a problem in any home, new and old, well-sealed and drafty homes, homes with or without basements. Radon from soil gas is the main problem but in a small number of homes it may come from building material. Radon levels are unpredictable and varies from home to home, even homes next door to each other can have very different radon levels.
Who should test for radon?
Radon levels are unpredictable and varies from home to home, even homes next door to each other can have very different radon levels. All homes and rental properties should be tested. Know your risks test for radon.
What is a short-term test?
A short-term test is a test from 2 to 90 days. Typically most short-term test are done after mitigation and last 2 to 7 days. During a short-term test closed house conditions must be meet 12 hours prior to the testing and during the entire test. A short term test will give you a snapshot of the radon levels in ones home and should be followed up with along term test; Health Canada recomends a test from 90 to 365. One should not determine if mitigation is required from a short term test.
What is a long-term test?
A long term test is a test from 91 to 365 days. A long-term test will tell you your home’s year-round average radon levels under your living conditions. This is considered the most accurate way to test. During a long-term test there are no special requirements you may open doors and windows and operate fans. Health Canada recomends 90 to 365 day test to determin if you have a radon problem in your home.
What level of radon gas is considered safe?
There is no apparent safe level of exposer for radon gas. The higher the levels and the longer you are exposed to radon gas the greater your risk of getting lung cancer. In a recent study combined data from across North America estimate that ones risk of developing lung cancer increases by 11% per 100 becquerels per cubic meter ( Bq/m³) increase in radon concentration, with no apparent safe level of exposure.
What are the units of measurement for radon gas?
In Canada the concentration of radon in the air is measured in becquerels per cubic meter (Bq/m³). In the United States it is measured in picocuries per liter (pCi/L) The concentration of radon daughters is measured in units of working level (WL).
1 pCi/L = 37 Bq/m³
2 pCi/L = 74 Bq/m³ = 0.01 WL @ 50% equilibrium
4 pCi/L = 148 Bq/m³ = 0.02 WL @ 50% equilibrium
What are the Canadian guide lines?
Remedial measures be taken in a dwelling whenever the average annual radon concentration in the normal occupancy area exceeds 200 becquerels per cubic meter.
The higher the radon concentration, the sooner remedial measures should be taken.
When remedial action is taken, the radon level should be reduced to a value as low as practicable (i.e., reduced as much as possible using methods that are cost-effective).
The construction of new dwellings should employ techniques that will minimize radon entry and will facilitate post-construction radon removal, should this subsequently prove necessary.