Testing for radon in your home is a smart way to ensure you are not being exposed to excessive amounts of this dangerous and invisible radioactive gas. The Government of Canada also recommends that every home should be tested. If you have purchased and set up a radon gas home test kit, you may be wondering how to read the results.
How much radon gas is harmful?
While waiting for your results, it is beneficial to remember some of the basics about radon. In short, radon is a naturally occurring gas that is not harmful unless it is released into the home where it is in an enclosed space. If a high enough level can gather over a long period of time, it can lead to potential health problems for occupants, such as lung cancer.
Health Canada recommends that radon inside of the home should be reduced if it reaches an annual concentration of 200 Bq/m3.
If you live on a property that uses a private well, you can also test your water for radon levels since radon in drinking water can also be dangerous.
General Procedure For Getting Your Radon Gas Results
Here are the general steps you should take to get your radon gas results
Sending the radon detector to the lab for testing
After your radon gas detector has sat in the specified area for at least 3 months, it is time to send it off to the lab for results. It is important to properly handle the detector once the test has finished. Immediately place the detector into the provided envelope and fill out the information card for the lab. Make sure the serial number on the detector matches what you fill out on the information card.
Interpreting your radon test results
After having mailed the detector and lab fee to the radon testing lab, a few weeks later the results will be sent to you. When reading results, know that a 2012 study by Health Canada found that roughly 7% of homes in Canada have high radon.
If your radon levels are found below the actionable level of 200 Bq/m3, then your home has been deemed to contain a safe exposure level to this naturally occurring gas. Don’t panic if the amount is higher than 0. Radon is naturally occurring and it becomes toxic to human health only once the levels are too high and there is repetitive daily exposure (which is why it is important to test for levels inside the home).
What to do if your radon levels are high
If your lab results indicate that the radon levels inside of your home are at the actionable level, then it is important to take some precautionary steps.
Timelines for reducing high levels of radon vary, but generally if your levels are over 600 Bq/m³, then you have an immediate radon problem that should be dealt with in the timespan of 1 year. Between the base level of 200 Bq/m³ and 600 Bq/m³, the timeframe for action should be within 2 years.
The first step should always be to contact a radon mitigation professional for an on-site consultation. They may recommend an Active Soil Depressurization (ASD) system that vents the radon gas from your foundation to the outdoors before it can enter the home.
Other options include sealing cracks around the foundation or gaps around pipes to prevent radon gas from entering the home.