Radon is a chemical element with symbol Rn and atomic number 86. It’s a radioactive, colourless, odorless, tasteless noble gas, occurring naturally as a decay product of radium. It occurs most everywhere but concentrations vary widely with location. Because it is very dense it accumulates in attic’s and basements that are not properly ventilated. Once vented to the atmosphere it dissipates quickly. It has been present since the earth was formed and will always exist.
This radioactive gas seeps in through cracks in your home’s foundation and openings such as drainpipes and sump pumps and causes serious health risks. A natural byproduct of uranium breaking down in the soil, radon is responsible for an estimated 16% of lung cancer deaths. All homes are at risk of having radon gas; even new homes can have harmful levels. Though you won’t know until you test for it.
The test involves placing a small device in the lowest lived in level of your home. Then after 90 days send the device to a laboratory for analysis. Health Canada has set a standard of 200 Bq/m³, and the World Health Organization recommends a level of 100 Bq/m³.
New building codes will require venting the atmosphere under concrete floors in new homes to eliminate most radon. Our homes are now built with high energy efficiency ratings and no longer expel much heat. The problem is if that home has elevated levels of radon there is no way for it to escape. Existing homes are at risk because mandatory testing has not been implemented. Each home should tested every 2 years as the ground breaks down differently. If a fan installed it is not necessary to have repeat testing.
On average 16% of lung cancer deaths are attributed to radon exposure which is approximately 3200 deaths each year in Canada. Radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer (surpassed only by smoking)