Radon is an undetectable radioactive gas and despite sounding like it’s straight out of a sci-fi film, is actually present at varying levels in homes across the country.
Radon exists as a natural by-product of the breakdown of uranium, which is commonly found in concrete, bricks, tiles and other building materials that you may find in your home.
Although all homes have some level of radon in the air, some homes may contain dangerous levels of radon that compromise both air quality and human health.
Measuring Radon Levels In Your Home
Radon is colourless, odourless and detectable only by special instruments.
Although both long and short-term radon detectors are commonly available for sale, it is Health Canada’s recommendation that Canadians opt for long-term detectors and take measurements over a period of a minimum of 3 months.
It is also recommended to take these measurements between the months of September to April, when radon levels tend to be highest in your home.
A 3 month measurement is much more valuable because radon levels can fluctuate greatly over the period of several months and it can be challenging to get accurate measures within a smaller window of time.
Radon measurement can be done either using DIY detector kits, which can be purchased online or at your local home improvement store, or with the assistance of a certified professional.
If you intend to carry out the process without the help of a professional, keep in mind that measurements should be taken in an area of the home where at least 4 hours of the day are spent, and is on a lower, rather than higher level, of the home.
How Much Is Too Much?
Health Canada provides guidance as to the levels of radon in the air that are acceptable within your home.
Why? Radon concentrations above this level may be damaging to human lungs and have been linked with an increased risk of lung cancer.
In fact, radon represents the 2nd leading cause of lung cancer in Canada, behind only smoking and those who both smoke and are exposed to high levels of radon in the home are at a much greater overall risk.
The value is currently set at 200 Bq/ m³ , which represents the unit of measure for radon concentration in the air.
When tested values exceed this limit, radon mitigation measures are heavily recommended to reduce radon concentrations in the home in order to protect air quality and the health of its inhabitants.
If your home tests at radon levels greater than 200 Bq/m3, radon mitigation measures will be necessary.
As per Health Canada, the most frequently utilized and effective strategy to reduce radon levels in your home is known as Active Soil Depressurisation (ASD).
This technique, generally performed by a contractor, involves drilling a hole into your basement floor and utilizing a pipe to remove the radon gas from under your home and transfer it to the outdoor environment where it is far less harmful.
Health Canada recommends only hiring contractors who have been certified through the Canadian National Radon Proficiency Program, so keep this in mind before proceeding.
Finally, you can expect to pay between $1500-$3000 for this procedure depending on the construction of your home and how severe your radon levels are.