From Health Canada
Recent scientific studies have linked an increased risk
of developing lung cancer to exposure to radon at levels found inside some
Canadian homes. The only way to know if you have a radon problem is to test
Radon is a gas produced naturally by the
breakdown of uranium in soils and rocks that occurs naturally in the
environment. You can't see, smell or taste radon. The Canadian guideline
for radon in indoor air was revised in 2007. It recommends that:
You should take steps to lower levels
of radon in your home if the average annual level in the normal living areas
exceeds 200 becquerels per cubic meter.
The higher the radon level, the
sooner you should take action.
When action is taken, the radon level
should be reduced as much as possible using methods that are cost-effective.
The construction of new dwellings
should use techniques that will minimize radon entry and facilitate
post-construction radon removal, if needed later.
The health effects of radon
When radon gas escapes from the ground outdoors it gets
diluted and does not pose a health risk. However, in some confined spaces, like
homes, radon can accumulate to relatively high levels and become a health
Long-term exposure to high levels of radon in the home
may increase the risk of developing lung cancer. For smokers, the combination
of smoking and exposure to radon can significantly increase the risk of
lung cancer. Radon
exposure is linked to roughly 16% of lung cancer deaths in Canada, and is
the second leading cause of lung cancer after smoking.
Radon in the home
Some amount of radon gas can be found in almost all homes
that are in contact with the ground.
Radon can seep into a home through:
cracks in foundation walls and floors
gaps around pipes
Radon moves easily through concrete-block walls because
they are so porous. Also, radon trapped in water from wells can be released
into the air when the water is used.
conducted a cross-Canada survey of 14,000 homes in 2009
and 2010. Results showed that:
About 7% of homes in Canada have
radon levels above the Canadian guideline.
Radon levels vary quite significantly
across the country.
It is impossible to predict whether
any one house will have a high level of radon.
Factors that affect radon levels in the home include:
The amount of uranium in the ground
around the home.
The entry points available into your
home (cracks in the foundation, crawl spaces, etc.).
The way your home is ventilated.
Measuring radon levels in the home
Testing a home for radon is easy and
inexpensive. There are two options:
Buy a do-it-yourself radon test kit.
Hire a professional radon measurement
If you choose to buy a radon test kit, you must closely
follow the instructions on how to set up the test. Radon test kits can be
purchased over the phone, on the internet, or from home improvement stores. The
kits include instructions on how to set up the radon test and how to send it
back to a lab for analysis when the testing period is over. The cost of testing
ranges from $25 to $75. If you hire a service provider, you should make sure
they are certified and will conduct a long-term test.
Reduce your risk
The only way to know if you have a radon problem is to test your home. If the
radon level is high, take action to reduce it. The higher the level, the sooner
it needs to be fixed.
Reducing radon in a home is easy and reasonably priced.
Steps you can take include:
Increase the ventilation to allow an exchange of air.
Seal all cracks and openings in foundation walls and floors, and around
pipes and drains.
Renovate existing basement floors, particularly earth floors.
The standard method for reducing radon in a home is
called active soil depressurization. It's usually done by a contractor. A pipe
is installed through the foundation floor and is connected to the outside. A
fan attached to the pipe draws radon from under the home, before it gets
inside, and releases it outside, where it gets diluted.
Radon professionals can help you determine the best way
to reduce the radon level in your home. To find a certified radon professional
go to the
Canadian National Radon Proficiency
Program (C-NRPP) or call 1-800-269-4174 (toll free).
In 2010, new
National Building Codes
were introduced to protect against radon. These new codes require new homes to
have a vapour barrier to reduce the entry of radon. They also require a
'rough-in' for a radon reduction system. The rough-in will significantly lower
costs if action has to be taken later to reduce radon levels in the home.
The government of Canada's
The National Radon Program was developed and implemented
in 2008 to support the revised Canadian guideline for radon in indoor air.
The program consists of five components:
establishment of a national radon laboratory
radon testing projects
development of a radon database and mapping
education and public awareness
Health Canada works in partnership with the
provinces and territories, as well as other key stakeholders in all aspects of
the National Radon Program.
For more information
radon web section
radon resource centre
Radon-Frequently asked questions
What you can do about hazards in your environment
Canadian Lung Association
Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation -
Radon, A Guide
for Canadian Homeowners
Find a radon professional in your area through the
Canadian National Radon Proficiency