If you’ve just heard about radon, you’re probably a little confused… not to mention very concerned. You are wondering about questions like “Is it possible that there is radon inside my home in Ottawa?” and “Do I need radon testing?”
Radon testing is indeed a complex and worrying subject. However, knowledge is power. We have the information you need to help you stop worrying and start taking action to solve the problem.
What Is Radon?
Radon is defined as a radioactive gas given off when uranium (naturally found in the earth, rocks, and — occasionally — water) breaks down or “decays.” Outdoors, radon is not dangerous since it is diluted by mixing with the air. It can be hazardous, though, if it accumulates in an enclosed area (such as a house or other building which was constructed above the earth containing uranium). Radon is colourless, odourless, and tasteless, making it difficult to detect.
Why Is It Dangerous?
Inhaling radon over a lengthy period will have a cumulative effect: a heightened risk of lung cancer. According to Health Canada, there are approximately 3,300 deaths from radon-related lung cancer annually. Among Canadian non-smokers, radon exposure is the Number 1 cause of lung cancer fatalities.
How Can Radon Enter The Home?
Radon may get into any home in Canada, regardless of the home’s age or condition, whenever the indoor air pressure indoors is less than that of the ground. The small atoms that make up radon gas can make their way inside from a surprisingly large number of places. Although any point where the house structure comes in contact with the earth is especially vulnerable, radon might enter your house via any one of a number of spots, including:
- Construction joints
- Openings for pipes, sewers, and other plumbing systems
- Porous building materials like concrete or drywall
- Sump pits or unfinished sump drains
- Cracks in foundations or basement walls (even those invisible to the naked eye)
- Unfinished crawl spaces or dirt floors
- Well water
Once inside, extremely heavy radon atoms usually become most concentrated in the home’s low-lying areas, such as a basement or crawl space.
Are Some Types Of Homes More Exposed To Radon?
Radon levels are measured in Bq/m3 (becquerels per cubic metre) or pCi/L (picocuries per litre). 37 Bq/m3 equals1 pCi/L.
An acceptable level that does not require you to take action, as per Health Canada, is fewer than 200 Bq/m3, although even smaller amounts of radon may harm your family’s health.
A moderately dangerous level that requires repair and/or mitigation within the next 2 years is 200 to 600 Bq/m3.
A more dangerous level that requires repair and/or mitigation within the next year is 600 Bq/m3 and over.
Many — but by no means all — residences in the Ottawa area have unacceptable amounts of radon. Your home might have a dangerous level of radon, while your next door neighbour’s does not. The only way to find out is by testing.
How Does Long Term Radon Testing Work?
Long term radon testing (also called “active testing”) is an in-depth procedure to determine the radon level in your home. The test is set up by a certified, skilled radon professional, usually in the basement or other occupied area at the lowest level of your home, where the radon concentration is likely to be highest. The ideal location is 1-2 metres above the floor within the normal breathing zone and a minimum of 1 metre away from exterior walls, windows, HVAC vents, or other openings. The test should be left undisturbed for a period of 3 to 5 months, depending on your technician’s advice. Results will then be sent to a lab for analysis.
A major advantage of long-term testing is that it provides an extremely accurate reading of the amounts of radon concentration in your home and their variations over time. In consequence, you’ll receive a certified report of the test results, and your radon professional will be able to design the best radon mitigation program for your specific situation.
How Does Short Term Radon Testing Work?
Short term radon testing (AKA “passive testing”) takes the form of a digital test device, normally placed in the basement for a total of 7 days. The short term test is used as a preliminary diagnostic since it is only approximate. If results fall below the acceptable level of 200 Bq/m3, your concerns can be ruled out. On the other hand, results above this level indicate that you would be well advised to follow up with the long term test type.
As disturbing as it might be to find unacceptably high levels of radon in your home, there is a solution, one which is relatively simple and affordable. Professional installation of an Active Soil Depressurization (ASD) mitigation system will redirect radon away from your house interior and quickly reduce the indoor level.
How Does It Work?
The ASD mitigation system is sealed and consists of 3 main components:
- PVC pipe, 8-10 cm in diameter, to be inserted into a hole drilled in your foundation
- suction pit, which is a hole dug in the soil under your basement floor
- fan that pulls radon gas from the suction pit, moving it through the pipe and safely outdoors
Your radon fan will need to be in operation 24 hours a day to safeguard your home. We recommend sealing cracks in your foundation or basement and adding a cover to your sump pit for additional protection.
Reliable Protection Against Radon Exposure
If you’re concerned about potential radon concentration in your Ottawa home, contact Out of This World. We provide professional short or long term testing and radon mitigation services by our technicians. Keep your home and family safe. Ask about radon treatment today.