You can’t smell, taste or see Radon, but this radioactive gas is the second leading cause of lung cancer in Canada. Scariest of all? It may be present in your home.
Radon can be found across Canada — about 25 per cent of Ontario real estate surveyed from 2009 to 2013 had Radon concentrations that required action, reports Cancer Care Ontario. So it doesn’t matter if sold house prices in Toronto are in the millions — the risk of Radon exposure doesn’t discriminate. That’s because Radon comes from a mineral — uranium — found in the earth’s crust. As uranium breaks down in rock and soil, it releases a gas. It’s not a big deal outdoors because it’s diluted by circulating air, but it can build up to harmful levels in enclosed spaces like houses. It seeps through cracks, pipes, and the foundation of properties.
“When the Radon gas builds to higher concentrations, we breathe this radioactive gas into our lungs where it does the damage,” says Mark Diplock, a registered home inspector and senior inspections manager at Mike Holmes Inspections. “Radon releases radioactive particles into the lung tissue where over time it can damage our DNA leading to lung cancer. The higher the levels the greater the risk.”
Diplock says that the only way to determine if Radon is present is to test for it.
“It is very important that you hire the right professionals to test and mitigate if necessary. The only recognized accredited certification in Canada is through the Canadian National Radon Proficiency Program,” he says. “Professionals with this designation have gone through rigorous training to understand the physics of radon and the proper procedures and protocols of how to test and mitigate.”
Radon testing is a simple process. A monitoring device it left in the home over about three months, but it’s also possible to conduct a short-term test that takes around a week. But this test merely gives you a “ball-park result” and you should always follow up with a longer-term test.
Any test shorter four days may result in a false negative and is not recommended.
The most accurate results occur in the winter, when we shut our doors and lock our windows. That’s why November is National Radon Action month and the perfect time to begin testing for this gas.
There are various guidelines as to what constitutes an acceptable level of Radon exposure. Health Canada recommends that homes be under 200 Bq/M3 whereas as the World Health Organization suggest it should be 100 Bq/M3. The higher the levels of exposure over time means the greater risk of negative health effects.
The good news is that Radon is easy to reduce and control.
“A Radon mitigation professional can assess your home and install the proper equipment in order to disperse the Radon before it reaches high levels,” Diplock says.
This takes less than a day to install and is an effortless way to protect yourself and your family.
Zoocasa is a full-service brokerage that offers advanced online search tools to empower Canadians with the data and expertise they need to make more successful real estate decisions. View real estate listings at zoocasa.com or download our free iOS app.
Through education and advocacy the Ontario Association of Home Inspectors cultivates a thriving home inspection industry based on the highest standards of professional development and ethical standards. In doing so, OAHI cultivates the ‘gold standard’ for home inspectors among consumers and the government. OAHI is the only provincially recognized body of home inspectors by The Ontario Association of Home Inspectors Act, 1994. OAHI is a not-for-profit association.