Radon – What is it?

Radon is a radioactive gas that cannot be seen, smelled or tasted. It develops from the natural decay of uranium and radium (radioactive minerals). Radon is very common within the soils of Canada and widespread throughout Western  Canada with dangerously high levels found in most of Alberta. Even outdoor air contains small amounts of Radon and every home contains some Radon. Concentrations of the gas above the Health Canada Action Levels have been found in 12%- 25 % of the homes in Calgary and surrounding areas. Both the EPA and the World Health Organisation(WHO) have lower exposure limits than those currently used by Health Canada. Every building should be tested. See Radon Potential map of Alberta

How does it enter my Home?

Radon seeps into homes as a result of differential pressures between the interior and exterior of the home. This effect is magnified in cold weather climates like Canada and as the warm interior air rises in the home, the infiltration of soil gases in the basement increases. The gas enters through cracks in the foundation, floor and plumbing penetrations and in some cases water. Sealing these openings only slows the entry and mitigation may be necessary to overcome the problem.

Why is it Dangerous?

As we breathe the air in our homes, radon enters the lungs and deposits radioactive particles that cannot be dislodged. These particles can seriously damage sensitive lung tissue and result in cancerous growths. Higher concentrations and longer periods of exposure can accelerate the danger. The only way to know the Radon levels in your home is to test. If a concerning amount is found, it can easily be addressed for a reasonable cost.

Radon Facts

  • Radon is measured in Becquerals /cubic meter of air (Bq/m3) which refers to the number of radioactive decays per second in a cubic meter of air. The Health Canada maximum level of exposure is 200 Bq/m3 indicates that your home has 200 radioactive decays per second in each m3 of air. The USA (EPA) standard equates to 148 Bq/m3 and the World Health Organization (WHO) uses 100 Bq/m3.
  • Radon is the second leading cause of Lung Cancer
  • 16% of all lung cancer deaths are attributable to Radon
  • Outdoor air contains between 10 and 20 Bq/m3
  • An ongoing U of C study indicates high levels in Calgary and area homes with 12-25% tested above the Health Canada maximum limits. It is not uncommon for homes to have concentrations between 1000 and 3000 Bq/m3. The study is being expanded to all of Alberta. Using the World Health Organisation limits, about 58% of Calgary homes would indicate concerning amounts of Radon.
  • A fix by a Certified Mitigator is cheaper than a new furnace and will last longer.
  • Radon doesn’t care whether your home is new. old. small or large –if you are near a source and haven’t been tested, you and your family could be at risk.