Radon on the radar

Feb 23, 2015 2 minute read

Radon on the radar

According to Health Canada, exposure to radon gas is the second-leading cause of lung cancer in Canada.

A colourless, odourless, and tasteless radioactive gas, radon is formed and released naturally in the environment during the breakdown of uranium found in everyday soil, rock and water. When radon is released into the environment it combines with fresh air becoming too diluted to result in any impact or harm to humans.

However, radon can enter your home through any place where your home touches the soil. Cracks in foundations, walls, construction joints and even floor drains all provide an entryway. Additionally, air exchangers or dryer vents can act as vacuum to pull outside air into your home.

If you feel like radon could be a concern for your property, there are a few different methods to test the levels in your home.

Radon detection solutions are available to assess concentration levels of the gas. Depending on the detector solution, you can measure Radon concentration for up to 12 months.

Home improvement stores, such as Home Depot, sell do-it-yourself radon testing kits. Thorough, inexpensive and easy to use, these kits walk you through how to take a sample, which is then sent to a lab for analysis. It’s important to note that lab analysis fees may apply.

Radon measurement professionals are also available for hire to assess and measure the concentration in your home. Should you choose to hire a professional, ensure they are aware of Health Canada’s measurement protocols and ask about whether their detection solution is short or long term.

Regardless of who performs the test, all testing for radon should be done in the lowest, lived-in level of your home, ideally, where you spend at least four hours per day. This area could include a family room, living room, playroom or bedroom located in the basement of your home.

The level of radon in your home can vary based on time of day and time of year. Radon concentration tends to be higher during winter months and during the evening when homes are sealed and windows and doors are closed.

Health Canada recommends testing homes for a minimum of three months between September and April.

Health Canada also recommends that any home with radon levels that exceed 200 becquerels per cubic metre (200 Bq/m³) should undergo remediation measures.

If you encounter unsafe levels of radon in your home, a radon reduction method called Active Soil Depressurisation (ASD) should be conducted. During this process, a small hole is drilled into your basement floor and fitted with a pipe and fan that will draw radon from under your home and push it to a safe area outside. All ASD methods should be conducted by certified radon professional.

The higher the level of radon in your home the sooner remediation should take place. If radon levels are 200 – 600 Bq/m3 Health Canada recommends you fix your home within two years. If levels exceed 600 Bq/m3 you should try and fix your home within the year.

Radon exposure can happen in any location across Canada, in both new and older homes.

For more information on radon, the health impacts of radon poisoning and mitigation solutions visit Health Canada’s website.

While currently the detection of radon in your home has no direct impact on your insurance, there are other environmental factors that do. Any time is a good time to review your home insurance policy. Contact your BrokerLink broker to make sure you’ve got the right coverage for the climate and environment where you live.