Radon: The Radioactive Gas That Could Be in Your Home
by Sandra Redl
on Thursday, November 26th, 2020 at 3:10pm.
If I told you that radon is a colorless, odorless, tasteless radioactive gas that is the leading cause of lung cancer in non-smokers, would you be shocked? Would you be shocked if I told you that Saskatchewan is a radon “hot spot”? What if I said that radon could be affecting you in your own home? While you may have some prior knowledge about what radon is and how it can affect you, many people are lacking even basic information about this potentially threatening gas! Learn how to protect yourself and your loved ones:
What is Radon?
As I previously stated, radon is a colorless, odorless, tasteless radioactive gas. So how is it formed and why is Saskatchewan a “hot spot”?
Radon is formed naturally when the Uranium in soil and rocks breaks down, releasing the radioactive gas up through the ground. If it escapes into the open air, it is diluted and is not a concern. However, if it enters your home through your basement, it can accumulate to high levels and high radon levels can be a risk to your health.
So, when you consider that the province has some of the highest grade uranium deposits, with concentrations more than 100 times the global average, it’s easy to see why it is a “hotspot”, and homes for sale in Saskatchewan are more likely to be affected.
Why Should I Be Concerned?
If radon gas is accumulating in your home at high levels, you will be inhaling it. And once radon gas is in your lungs, it decays into radioactive particles, releasing small bursts of energy. Nearby lung tissues then absorb these, damaging the cells and casting them to reproduce, with the risk of causing cancer. Again, I’ll repeat: radon exposure is the #1 cause of lung cancer in non-smokers, and if that’s not cause for concern, I don’t know what would be!
How Do I Know if My Home is Sitting on a “Hotspot”?
Uranium is commonly found in the earth and breaks down all the time, but radon can enter a home anywhere that the house is in contact with the ground and there is an opening. These can be cracks in foundation walls and in the floor slab, construction joints, gaps around service pipes, support posts, window casements, floor drains, sump pumps, or cavities inside walls. If the home happens to be placed on a site where radon is being released, it will take the path of least resistance and more than likely find its way into your home.
The National Radon Program states “There are no areas of the country that are 'radon free’,” so it is safe to assume that radon can be found in almost every home in Canada in some quantity. However, the concentrations of Uranium vary quite a bit across the country.
The National Radon program set out to discover just how much the variances are across Canada and the program released the results of their two year study in 2012. They estimated that, on average, about 6.9% of all Canadian homes measured above the safe concentration guidelines. In Saskatchewan specifically, about 16% of homes measured above the guideline, leading to the designation of being a “hot spot”.
How Do I Know if Radon is Entering My Home?
Now that you know that it is highly possible that Radon is entering your home, the key is to know if your home is measuring above the safe concentration levels. To do so, you have two options: DIY or hire a professional.
The National Radon Program provides information on a do-it-yourself radon test kit which will tell you where to purchase the test kits, as well as how to perform the test. Of course, you can also always hire a Radon Measurement Professional, such as River City Radon, which is not only locally-owned, but run by a family that has had personal experience dealing with the effects of radon going unnoticed in their home. No matter who you decide to go with, though, remember to always check that the company is certified and will conduct a long-term test for a minimum of 3 months.
For more information about how radon may be affecting you or the purchase and sale of your home, please don’t hesitate to contact me today!