This article was originally posted in August 2012. I thought it appropriate to repost with the following guide that was recently published to help homeowner's: A Homeowner’s Guide to Radon
What is radon?
Radon is a radioactive gas that causes cancer. Radon is found in rock, soil, water, some building materials, and natural gas. You can't see, taste, or smell it.
How does radon exposure occur?
Any home, school, office, or other building can have high levels of radon. Radon is found in new and old buildings. It can seep in through the foundation of a house built on radon-contaminated soil. Then the radon may get trapped inside the house. It sinks to the low points in buildings, so it often is found in basements. But a building can have high levels of radon even if it doesn't have a basement.
Radon is found in homes all over the world, including Canada. High radon levels are not widespread in Canadian homes. If you are concerned about exposure to radon gas in your home, you might consider testing.
What are the health effects of radon exposure?
Over time, exposure to radon can cause lung cancer. It is estimated to cause about 1,500 to 2,000 lung cancer deaths per year in Canada. People who smoke have an even higher risk of lung cancer from radon exposure than people who don't smoke.
How can you find and remove high levels of radon?
You can test for radon using a do-it-yourself test. Radon detectors can be hard to find in many parts of Canada. Contact your provincial environmental office for advice. You also can hire a qualified tester to do the test.
If you have questions about radon in your house, you can get help from the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation by calling 1-800-668-2642.
If tests find a high level of radon, you'll need to reduce it. There are two ways to do this:
- Prevent radon from entering the building.
- Vent radon out of the building.
Currently, Canada does not have a national program for certification of individuals or companies that provide radon testing and removal. Until a program is created, Health Canada recognizes the certification programs offered in the United States through the National Environmental Health Association or the National Radon Safety Board and encourages Canadians to use a tester that is certified by one of these programs.
Source: Govenment of British Columbia