Radon- You asked!
I have been getting more and more questions about Radon in the last few months. I will attempt to answer some of the questions in this blog. Okay what is Radon gas, well obviously it is colorless, odorless, tasteless cancer-causing radioactive gas. It is found naturally in the environment and is produced by the natural but indirect decay of heavier radioactive elements like uranium and thorium commonly found in soils and rocks.
Radon is quickly becoming a hot topic in the Real estate industry. It has been asked “should a quick style Radon test be performed before the house is listed”, I say yes! Even the quick test takes about 3 days and then sent to a lab for results maybe 48 hours more, but the results would be there at the time of purchase. This test can be performed by IAC2 certified home inspectors and others. I also feel that a pre-listing home inspection should be part of every home sale to stop people from buying lemons and stop last-minute surprises…but that is another blog.
In 2007, Health Canada announced a revised guideline for radon levels in indoor air. Based on new research, federal, provincial and territorial governments have worked together to develop a new guideline to help protect Canadians from the health risks associated with radon. The new guideline is 200 Bq/m3, lowered to a quarter of the previous guideline of 800 Bq/m3. Health Canada recommends that a homeowner takes action to reduce the level in the home if the level is above the guideline of 200 Bq/m3. For comparison purposes, to U.S. documentation this is the equivalent of 5405 pCi/L or 5.405pCi/m3.
We have been using our basements as living spaces, rec rooms, bedrooms more and more and thus possibly exposing ourselves to Radon. Block foundation is subject to allowing more Radon then poured concrete.
What can we do?
Before a basement is finished all cracks should be sealed with a flexible sealant. Other entry points include your floor drains (a one-way trap is available), sump pits (make sure you have a cover), yes Radon is in water too. If you are on well water higher levels of Radon can be in your drinking water.
Our U.S. neighbors and Europe have been dealing with this issue for years and we are only now starting to catch up with the help of their technology.radon_guide
New homes should all be “Radon proofed” with venting installed and all entry points sealed. Some areas in Canada have to have mitigation methods installed in the new homes, I say why not all homes! It is more costly to mitigate after the home is built.
So why are mitigation procedures put in place as part of the building code? Ask your MPP!
Radon is second only to smoking as the leading cause of lung cancer in Canada.
Excerpts were copied from Health Canada documents