Frequently Asked Questions
How Does Radon Get Into Your Home?
The air pressure inside your home is usually lower than in the soil surrounding the foundation. This difference in pressure draws air and other gases, including radon, from the soil into your home.
Radon can enter a home any place it finds an opening where the house contacts the ground: cracks in foundation floor and walls, construction joints, gaps around service pipes, support posts, window casements, floor drains, sumps or cavities inside walls.
What are the Radon Levels in Canada?
All homes in Canada have radon gas in them. Concentrations differ greatly across the country but are usually higher in areas where there is a higher amount of uranium in underlying rock and soil.
Radon concentration levels will vary from one house to another, even if they are similar designs and next door to each other. No matter the age, type of construction or where your home is located, the only way to be sure of the radon level in your home is to test.
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 metre (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 therisk 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.
What are the Health Effects of Radon?
When radon gas is inhaled into the lungs it 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.
More information by Health Canada
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