I’ve often talked about my passion for healthy living and healthy homes. I am a big believer in indoor air quality testing, and testing for radon is a huge part of that.
November marks the official start of Lung Month as well as Radon Action Month. Every year, my family and I do our best to educate homeowners about air quality, and the dangers of radon.
We’ve recently partnered with Radon Environmental Management, and together, we’re going to show you how to test for, and mitigate your homes against this dangerous carcinogen.
But it is important to understand what radon is.
It starts with uranium. Uranium is everywhere in our soil, but when it breaks down, it produces a radioactive gas, that you can’t see, smell, or taste. That radioactive gas is radon.
When radon is released into our atmosphere, it gets diluted and doesn’t pose a threat. However, if it finds its way into your home, it can cause it to accumulate to dangerous, highly concentrated levels.
Radon is present everywhere. It is just a matter of how much is in your home. When we renovated my house, we found high levels of radon and had to take steps to mitigate it. It was important to me that we took steps to make our home as safe as possible, and radon mitigation was a big part of that.
Being exposed to high doses of radon over a long period of time can pose a major health risk. Radon has been linked to about 16 percent of all lung cancer deaths across Canada. Radon induced cancers are the leading cause of lung cancer among non-smoking Canadians.
And if you’re already a smoker, your risk of developing lung cancer due to radon exposure is increased. Non-smokers exposed to high concentrations of radon have a 1 in 20 chance of developing lung cancer, but if you’re a smoker, your risk grows to 1 in 3.
Radon will be present in every home. But because it’s colourless, odourless, and tasteless, there’s no way to know how much or little is in your home without testing for it. When you test your home, if radon levels are above 200 Bq/m3 it’s time to take action. Health Canada estimates that almost 7 percent of all Canadians are living in homes with radon levels higher than the national guidelines.
As a gas, radon can slip into your home via your floors, pipes, windows, sump pumps, cracks in your foundation, or even the foundation itself since concrete is porous.
Radon levels in your home can fluctuate throughout the year. During the winter, as we keep our homes tightly sealed, we can see those levels rise, especially if we don’t have an efficient air exchange replacing the air in your home.
Different parts of the country report different levels of radon. For example, Manitoba and New Brunswick reported some of the highest levels of radon across the country. But just because you’re in a part of the country that reports lower levels of radon, doesn’t mean this is a problem you can ignore. Radon levels may even differ between your house and your neighbour’s. They may test low for radon, while your home reports much higher levels.
While high radon levels are most typically found in basements and crawlspaces because they are in direct contact with the soil and often poorly ventilated, the only way to know how much radon is in your home is to test for it. Where Can You Learn More?
My family and I are raising awareness about radon, and radon induced illnesses all month long (and beyond).
To kick off Radon Action Month my dad and I will participate in a Twitter chat with other experts about radon and lung health. Join us on Twitter on November 2nd at 7pm EST using #ChatAirAware.
And if you have any questions about radon, we’ll be answering them LIVE on Facebook on November 30th - make sure you’ve liked Mike Holmes on Facebook so you don’t miss it!
Radon gas is dangerous - but the good news is that you can test your home for radon and there are steps you can take to mitigate it. November is a great time to get your home tested, it really could save your life.
Communications & Design
Radon Environmental Management
604 346 5264