Radon is a radioactive gas released from the decay of naturally occurring uranium in the soil. It’s naturally present in the earth under your home, and enters through cracks, or around pipes and drains. Radon gas is heavier than air and concentrates in the lower level of your home. It has no taste, colour or smell and is the #1 cause of lung cancer in non-smokers. There’s no acute illness, and health effects aren’t immediately detectable. Over years and decades, radon decays and homeowners are exposed to low levels of radiation. An estimated 3200 Canadians die every year from radon-related lung cancer.
A Stats Canada study showed only 6% of homeowners have had their homes tested for radon, yet it’s the easiest way to prevent lung cancer.
Every region in Canada has homes with elevated radon and its distribution in the soil isn’t predictable. Your home may test low, while the home next door or across the street may test high. It’s not dependent on the age or size of the home, or whether it’s rural, urban or suburban.
The only way to know if you’re being exposed to elevated levels of radon is to test your home.
How to test your home for radon
Radon test kits can be purchased online for around $50. You can find approved sources here. Radon monitors are the size of hockey pucks and sit undisturbed in the lower level of your home for at least 90 days, then sent to the lab for analysis. If levels are high, there are modifications that can be made in your home to limit exposure.
There are also certified professionals to test for, report on and mitigate radon. Look for their C-NRPP designation.