Top five reasons why you should test your Alberta home for radon

Are you safe enough from radon?

A radon test kit, like this one, can be purchased at http://radonaware.accustarcanada.com.

A radon test kit, like this one, can be purchased at http://radonaware.accustarcanada.com.

Radon, an invisible and naturally occurring toxic gas, comes from uranium breaking down deep in soil. It can get into homes and buildings undetected through cracks in foundations or gaps around pipes, as well as though floor slabs, construction joints, gaps around service pipes, support posts, window casements, floor drains, sumps or cavities inside walls.

No area in Alberta — and across Canada — is considered radon free, confirmed Health Canada. A 2012 cross-Canada survey shows 6.9 per cent of Canadians live in homes with radon above the acceptable limit. The Canadian Radon Guideline is 200 Becquerels/cubic metre, but the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency approves 148 Bq/mand World Health Organization recommends 100 Bq/mto be the acceptable level.

How much would it cost to test radon levels in your home?

Spending $30 to $50 is enough to test radon levels in your home. The procedure is very simple. Just purchase a radon detector kit, take it out from the package, put in appropriate place of your basement or lowest level of house. Then leave it alone for at least three months. After those three months are up, place it in a zip lock bag and send to the laboratory using the envelope received with the package. You should get the result back within two weeks.

Best time to do the testing?

Radon level in home varies from day to day or even hour to hour. Concentration are usually higher in winter and at night when windows and doors are closed. Health Canada recommends to use a long term detector for minimum three months during fall or winter.

How bad is radon for your health?

More than eight people a day, and about 3,200 each year, dies from radon-induced lung cancer in Canada. Radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer behind smoking in Canada and around 16% of all lung cancer cases are related to radon exposure.

What to do if tested high?

If any home test shows results higher than Health Canada’s acceptable limit of 200 Bq/m3, homeowners should call a certified radon mitigation professional who will inspect and give a quote for the mitigation work. The work costs from $800 to around $3,000 depending on the size and structure of the home.

Posted by Sufi Hassan, program specialist for environment and health at The Lung Association, Alberta & NWT. 

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