Tags: Safety Approach

The holidays have come and gone and now we look at how we can make 2018 the best year yet. We’ve all heard the statistics that the #1 New Year’s resolution is to get in shape and be healthy...but there’s more to it than just diet and exercise. We want everyone to start off the New Year happy and healthy, so we have decided to encourage all our readers to test their homes and workplaces for radon this month with the US EPA campaign #TestForRadon!

In the United States, it is estimated that 20 000 lung cancer deaths every year are caused by radon. In fact, the only health risk that has been definitively associated with radon exposure is an increased chance of lung cancer. For this reason, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA) has declared January to be National Radon Awareness Month.

Radon exposure has no immediate symptoms and lung cancer will only develop after consistent exposure over a period of 5 to 25 years. So why are we talking about it? Radon is present in every building to some degree, with 1 in 10 buildings exceeding what are considered to be safe levels. Since it is possible to lower dangerous levels of radon, it is important to spread the word about how simple it is to detect and reduce the presence of radon, and therefore decrease the number of families who are affected by preventable lung cancer every year.

What is Radon?

Radon is a colourless, odourless, and tasteless radioactive gas that is found naturally in the soil around the world. When it escapes into the environment, the outdoor air dilutes it to the point where it has no negative effects on the life around it. However, buildings that are built over top of radon contaminated soil can trap the gas.

While traces of radon are present in every building, it often isn’t in concentrations that should cause any concern. It is estimated that 1 in 10 homes have radon levels that exceed acceptable levels.

How do I test for radon levels?

Radon tests are simple and inexpensive to do yourself, and can be purchased at hardware and home improvement stores, as well as online. However, there are also certified professionals available to perform a home test for you.

Two types of tests are available: short term and long-term.

Short term tests take between 2 and 90 days to complete, while long-term tests take place over 90+ days. Because radon levels fluctuate, the more time you can give a test to collect data, the more accurate your analysis will be. 

A few things to keep in mind when conducting a radon test:

  • Go low. The best area of the house to test is the lowest room that people regularly spend time in. Since radon comes up from the soil, a lower room will tell you what the levels are close to the source.
  • Not all rooms are equal.  Since the health risks associated with radon are linked to exposure over time, hoose the lowest room where someone regularly spends more than 4 hours a day, such as a stock room, mail room, entertainment area or playroom. Avoid rooms that are considered damp, such as laundry rooms, kitchens and bathrooms.
  • Test during the winter. During the winter months, it is normal for ventilation in homes to decrease significantly, since people tend to seal up their doors and windows to keep the cold air out of the house, and turn up their furnaces. This creates a perfect “worst case” scenario which allows the test to accurately reflect the highest levels of radon present in the building.
How can I lower my radon levels?

So you’ve tested for radon and your levels exceed what is deemed safe...now what? Well, the good news is it is possible to reduce the amount of radon seeping into a building. The method and cost will depend on the size of the building as well as the type of foundation that you have to contend with. You may want to consult with a professional to ensure you get the right solution to your problem.

The US EPA is trying to help everyone get through 2018 without the added risk of lung cancer. Keep yourself healthy by making #TestForRadon part of your New Year’s resolution.


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