08 Feb 2019

In this post, we will look at some of the basics of radon gas in your home and how you can manage the amount you are exposed to.

Awareness of the effects of radon exposure on homeowners is becoming more commonplace today as new companies look to market products to protect your home from this hazardous gas.

What is radon?

A naturally occurring radioactive gas, radon is invisible to the eye and does not have a smell or taste. It is released when the uranium that is found in soil starts to break down.

Is radon harmful?

Radon is not harmful when it is released into the open air outside of the home. The health concerns with radon start when it is found in enclosed spaces, such as the interior of the home, where it can amass to higher levels. Breathing in high levels of radon over a period of time has been linked to forms of lung cancer.

Is there radon in my home?

Radon can enter the home by being drawn in due to air pressure. Gases are drawn into your home automatically naturally from the soils around your home. Any gaps in your home will allow gases to enter, including cracks in the foundation, sump pits, air leaks around windows and construction joints.

How much is too much?

Most homes will contain some level of radon and this is perfectly normal. Radon can be found across Canada as it is found simply in soil, and it is found in greater quantities where there is uranium in the soil and rocks. For current guidelines on Radon for indoor air, visit https://www.canada.ca/en/health-canada/services/publications/health-risks-safety/guide-radon-measurements-residential-dwellings.html#a1_3

Protecting your home from radon

There are tests that you can perform to measure the amount of radon levels in your home. Do-it-yourself kits are available, but the instructions must be followed very carefully. There are also professional contractors that can provide this service if they are radon mitigation professionals.

There are also products coming to market that aim to address radon exposure in the home. Radon wraps and building materials are soon to be available and they vent radon out from the ground around the house so that it is not drawn into the home itself. Some of these products are meant to be installed prior to the foundation being poured so that they can be placed between the home and the soil that is venting the radon.

In terms of short term fixes, be sure to properly ventilate your home, especially the basement, and seal all air leaks in the foundation or walls. HRVs are also essential as they help to circulate the air and exchange indoor air with fresh outside air.

Radon mitigation is sure to be a new area where the building code will be looking to address limiting exposure to radon for homeowners by the installation of radon specific building products. Keep an eye on the blog for more updates on this important area of safety for the home.