A recent study by Health Canada found that 7% of the 14,000 homes they tested had levels of radon gas that exceeded the 200 Bq/m3 guideline limit. In the US, one in every fifteen homes has radon levels that pose a health risk to homeowners. Radon is a radioactive gas that is the second leading cause of lung cancer after tobacco. Eight Canadians die every day from lung cancer related to radon exposure in their homes.
What is Radon?
The fact that radon is odorless and colorless makes it difficult to detect, but there are ways you can test for radon gas in your home. Radon is a naturally-occurring radioactive gas which is created when uranium in the soil breaks down. The gas can seep through cracks in the foundation, crawlspaces, construction joints, gaps around plumbing and electrical fixtures and other holes in the building envelope. This happens because the pressure inside your home is generally lower than the pressure in the surrounding soil. This pressure difference draws air from the surrounding soil into your home. With improved building envelopes aimed at energy efficiency, buildings have fewer gaps so levels of radon build up in the home. Every home has a little radon in it, but in homes where it collects resulting in dangerously high levels, it does pose a risk to families.
How can You Detect Radon in your Home?
Radon testing can be done by the homeowners or by professional home inspectors. DIY home-testing kits can be ordered from your local hardware store. The test will need to be set up in your home and then left for a period of time recommended by the manufacturer. The radon test should be placed on the lowest lived-in level of the home. The kit is then sent off to the lab for testing. Testing usually comes at an additional fee. Be sure to follow the manufacturer’s guidelines carefully and to leave the test for the full period before sending it to the lab.
What Can You Do About High Radon Levels?
If your home does test positive for high levels of radon, a qualified Radon Mitigation Contractor can offer solutions and ways to make your home safer. One solution is to reduce the cracks and holes through which radon is leaking into your home and another is a process called slab depressurization. During this process, a hole is drilled into the basement foundation and a pipe and fan installed that will allow radon to be exhausted out of the home safely.
Radon is an easy issue to resolve once you know you have a problem, so be sure to test your home.