Radon is a naturally occurring, odourless, colourless, radioactive gas that comes from the ground. It is found in all buildings throughout the city and throughout the entire country. It will come in through cracks and gaps in foundation floors but also through sealed concrete since concrete is a porous substance. Every home will have some radon readings in it but testing is an important step to know how much is in your home. Another thing to note is that just because your neighbour’s house tested fine, it does not mean that yours will. Readings can vary greatly in small areas.
Long term exposure to radon gas can lead to lung cancer and is, in fact, the second leading cause of the disease in Canada as well as the leading cause in non-smokers. Health Canada says the risk of lung cancer for those exposed to high levels of radon gas over a long period of time is 1 in 20 for non-smokers and 1 in 3 for smokers. Health Canada also estimates that over 3,000 people a year die from lung cancer caused by radon exposure. These are not small numbers and so it is so important to test. Therefore, Health Canada does have a national radon program to help us do something about this.
Health Canada recommends testing your home with a certified DIY kit or by hiring a professional. The test needs to be done over a period of a minimum 3 months on the lowest level of your home to obtain a proper reading because levels can fluctuate. It is approximately $80 for a DIY kit which includes the lab fees for testing. However, the Canadian Cancer Society offers a discounted price of $30 + $12 shipping for a kit (the $12 is donated back to the Cancer Society). Test your home in the winter to attain the most accurate reading as our homes are sealed up in the winter to protect from the cold.
IF your home tests over the accepted level of 200 Bccquerels per cubic metre, there are mitigation systems to put in place. Usually a pipe is installed through the foundation floor to the outside with a fan attached to draw the radon from the home to the outdoors. The cost of such a system is $2,000 to $3,000. A decent price for the security of yourself and your family. New homebuilders will cover the cost of installing a system for up to one year and Tarion will cover for 2 to 7 years so do NOT wait any longer to get tested!
The provincial government is considering changes to the building code to enforce radon protection goes into every home. This is not confirmed but many home builders, particularly in Kanata, are now including mitigation systems in their new builds. The Canadian Cancer Society urges us to contact our local MPPs to let them know how important we think this issue is.
As always, if you have any questions at all, please do not hesitate to contact us.