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Radon

What is radon?
Radon is a dangerous gas that comes from the breakdown of uranium that is found in rocks and soil. It gets into basements through cracks, pipes, and drains.
 

Keep your family safe by following these tips:

  • Avoid putting bedrooms in the basement (where radon levels are the highest).
  • Spend most of your time on the main levels of your home, not in the basement.
  • Test to find out if there is radon in your home. Testing should take place for a minimum of three months during the winter in the lowest lived-in area of your home.
  • Radon testing kits can also be purchased at most hardware stores or online.
  • If your home test shows that you have unsafe levels of radon, get the problem fixed by a professional. 
Why is radon gas a concern?
Radon gas is not a concern when released from the ground or water into the outdoor air. However, radon gas can slowly seep from the ground into basements and buildings through cracks in the foundation, floor drains, etc. and build up inside the building over time. This is a problem because when breathed in, radon gas can cause damage to a person’s lung tissue and this lung damage can lead to lung cancer.
 
The chances a person will get lung cancer from radon gas increases if they:
  • Breathe in large amounts of the gas over a long period of time, or
  • Also smoke cigarettes and/or other tobacco products.
In the Kenora-Rainy River District close to one in every four (23.7%) lung cancer deaths are due to radon exposure which is higher than in many other parts of Ontario.

How do I know if there is radon gas in my home or apartment?
Since radon gas has no colour, smell or taste the only way to know if it is present is to test for it. You can test for radon yourself using a testing kit or have your home or apartment tested by a professional.
 
Testing for radon gas using a test kit
  • Buy a radon test kit from your local hardware or home improvement store.
    • Look for a long-term testing kit which will track radon gas over a period of at least 3 months. This will give you a much better idea of actual exposure to radon gas than a short-term test kit.
  • Follow the instructions on the test kit to test your home or apartment.
    • The best time to test is during the winter months between November and April when doors and windows are kept shut most of the time.
    • Place the kit in the lowest level of your home where you spend most of your time.
  • At the end of the test period mail the kit to the laboratory recommended on your test kit. They will read the results of the test and mail the results back to you. 
Professional testing
To find a professional who is knowledgeable in radon testing you can contact the Canadian National Radon Proficiency Program (C-NRPP) at 1-855-722-6777 or visit www.c-nrpp.ca.  
 
Reading your test results
Test results for radon gas are measured using the units Becquerels per cubic metre (Bq/m3). If your test shows:
  • Less than 200 Bq/m3 – this is a safe level and no work to reduce radon gas levels in your home or apartment is needed.
  • 200 Bq/m3 to 600 Bq/m3 – it is recommended that work be done to reduce radon gas in your home or apartment within 2 years of testing.
  • Over 600 Bq/m3 – it is recommended that work to reduce radon levels should be done within 1 year of testing. 
How can radon gas be reduced in a home or apartment?
There are a few different ways to reduce radon gas in buildings and certain methods work better for specific buildings. The most common method is called Active Soil Depressurization (ASD). This involves drilling a hole in the foundation floor and installing a fan which will draw radon gas from under the foundation and inside the building, and vent it to the outside. For a list of contractors in your area who are able to assist you in reducing radon gas in your home or apartment, contact C-NRPP at 1-855-722-6777 or visit www.c-nrpp.ca.
 
For more information, contact a public health inspector at your local Northwestern Health Unit office.

   

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