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Radon Risks in your Home

Published in The Lethbridge Herald
29 December 2020

As winter has arrived and we shut in for another COVID-19 lockdown, it is timely to consider the health of your indoor environment. An emerging health concern in our homes is a high level of radon.

You may not have ever heard of radon, but it is an invisible, odourless, tasteless, radioactive gas formed by the disintegration of radium, which is a decay product of uranium found in the soil. Radon can enter a home from the surrounding soil and accumulate over time, particularly in spaces that are not well ventilated.

Radon is considered the second leading cause of lung cancer in Canada. The Canadian Lung Association states: “As radon breaks down it forms radioactive particles that can get lodged into your lung tissue as you breathe. The radon particles release energy that can damage the cells in your lungs. When the cells in your lungs are damaged, there is the possibility of developing lung cancer. If you smoke and you live in a home with a high level of radon, you are at an even higher risk for lung cancer.” Radon is a long-term health hazard in your home.

Lethbridge is in a zone with a high potential for radon, though the actual levels can vary widely between areas and even from home to home. The amount of radon accumulating in a home will also depend on how much fresh air moves through. Some older, leakier homes and those with mechanical ventilation systems may have lower radon levels compared to newer, tightly built homes that trap the air better. The thing is, new or old, tight or leaky, you can’t really know until your home is tested.

In the latest version of the National Building Code of Canada, new homes are to be designed for future radon mitigation, if required. Testing for radon levels is also becoming more common in real estate transactions. And that is the good news: through the Canadian National Radon Proficiency Program (C-NRPP) there are more trained professionals in the region, and radon has never been easier to test for and to mitigate.

A trained technician can conduct a short-term test for a current indication of radon levels in your living space, but it is important to know that a long-term test of three to five months is required for accurate results. These long-term tests involve a small device that is left in your living space for the duration of the test. If your radon levels are above the current health safety guidelines of 200 becquerels you would be wise to plan for mitigation with the advice of a trained professional. The winter season is an optimum time to test for radon because it is the period when windows and doors stay closed – consider a professional test as the ultimate present for your friends and families!

The Southern Alberta Group for the Environment is a leading voice for a healthy and environmentally sustainable community. For more information on radon and C-NRPP trained professionals for radon testing and mitigation, visit our site at sage-environment.org

Government of Canada (https://www.canada.ca/en/health-canada/services/health-risks-safety/radiation/radon/take-action-on-radon.html)

C-NRPP Professionals in Lethbridge:

Rocky Mountain Radon Solutions or on facebook

RadonGone Ltd.

For more information: Canadian National Radon Proficiency Program (C-NRPP)

https://c-nrpp.ca/