Radon diagram: Adobe Stock

By Tina Novotny

Health Canada is calling on people to test their houses for radon, a potentially lethal gas.

Radon is a radioactive gas produced by the breakdown of uranium in the ground.

When radon is released into the environment it is quickly diluted but it does seep into houses through cracks and gaps in foundations and walls. It can also enter through windows and doors.

Radon is invisible, you can’t taste or smell it. It won’t cause headaches or make you nauseous.

Radon is the number one cause of lung cancer in non-smokers, leading to the deaths of over 3,200 Canadians each year, with 850 of those in Ontario.

And radon is present in all buildings as well as in your home; the question is whether the levels detected are in the safe zone.

Public Health Ontario estimates that 4.6 % of Ontarians live in homes with radon levels above the current Canadian radon guideline of 200 Bq/m3.

The York Region Radon – Test Your Home Study involved around 500 homeowners who tested their homes for at least 91 days from fall 2017 to summer 2018.

The majority of York Region homes had low levels of radon that were well below the Health Canada guideline.

However, Health Canada recommends homes with radon levels between 200 and 600 Bq/m3 be fixed within two years and homes with radon levels above 600 Bq/m3 should be fixed within one year.

At the time of the study, York Region also conducted a radon awareness survey, which was completed by 936 York Region residents.

Although general awareness of radon was high, with 87% of people knowing radon is a radioactive gas that comes from the ground and can impact health, 38% of participants did not know radon could be present in their home.

The only way to know whether the air in your home is affected by radon is to test for it. Health Canada recommends testing your home for a minimum of three months during the fall and winter months, when windows and doors are mostly closed.

Radon Test Kit

Radon test kits can be purchased for $45 to $70 from a home improvement retailer or online at takeactiononradon.ca/test.

You’ll also find information on how to find a certified radon measurement professional. 

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