An invisible and odorless radioactive gas that fluctuates daily. Radon is naturally occurring and found everywhere, impacting air quality.
Radon is the leading cause of lung cancer for non-smokers.
How does radon gas enter the home?
The uranium decay process that results in radon gas starts deep underground. Over time, radon gas travels up until it finally reaches the surface, which is often where homes are.
Home foundations and basements generally have different air pressure levels than the surrounding soil, which makes them act like vacuums for gases traveling through the soil.
Radon gas is drawn to homes on account of these forces, and can easily enter through cracks in basement flooring, foundations, pipes, and even water sources.
Once inside your home, radon gas will accumulate without proper ventilation in place. Radon concentration levels are compounded during the cold fall, winter, and spring months when homes are sealed for warmth.
Alarmingly, the winter months are also when people spend the most time indoors. School semesters are in full swing, offices are busy with employees who vacationed during the summer, and cold weather keeps people inside the comfort of home.
Finally, radon gas levels fluctuate throughout the day as well, with radon test results typically showing higher levels in the morning and lower levels at night.
What are the Health Effects of Radon?
When radon gas is inhaled into the lungsit decays into radioactive particles that release small bursts of energy. This energy is absorbed by nearby lung tissue, damaging the lung cells. When cells are damaged, they have the potential to result in cancer when they reproduce.
Radon exposure is the #1 cause of lung cancer in non-smokers. Exposure to high levels of radon in indoor air results in an increased risk of developing lung cancer. The risk of cancer depends on the level of radon and how long a person is exposed to those levels.
Exposure to radon and tobacco use together can significantly increase your risk of lung cancer. For example, if you are a lifelong smoker your risk of getting lung cancer is 1 in 10. If you add long-term exposure to a high level of radon, your risk becomes 1 in 3. As a non-smoker, your lifetime lung cancer risk at the same high radon level is 1 in 20.
What is the Current Canadian Guideline for Radon in Indoor Air?
The Canadian guideline for radon in indoor air for dwellings is 200 Becquerels per cubic meter (200 Bq/m3). A Becquerel is a unit that measures the emission of radiation per second. The radon level in a dwelling should not be above the guideline. While the health risk from radon exposure below the Canadian guideline is small there is no level that is risk-free. It is the choice of each homeowner to decide what level of radon exposure they are willing to accept. The chart below compares the risk of dying of radon-induced lung cancer to other better-known risks such as car accidents, carbon monoxide, and house fires. The risk of lung cancer from radon gas exposure is significant but preventable. The only way to know your radon level is to test and if high levels are found take action to reduce them.
How Much Will it Cost to Reduce the Level of Radon in my Home?
The cost of radon reduction depends on the size and design of a home and the work that is needed. These costs typically range from $2000 to $4000.