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Radon Gas

October 3, 2013

Just what is Radon gas? Radon is a gas produced naturally by the breakdown of uranium in soils and rocks that occurs naturally in the environment.

When radon gas escapes from the ground outdoors it gets diluted and does not pose a health risk. But in confined spaces; like your home, radon can accumulate to relatively high levels and become a health hazard.

Did you know that Radon exposure is linked to roughly 16% of lung cancer deaths in Canada and is the second leading cause of lung cancer, after smoking?   Long term exposure to high levels of radon in the home may increase the risk of developing lung cancer.  If you smoke, the combination of smoking and exposure to radon can significantly increase the risk of lung cancer.

So, are you wondering how Radon gas can get into your home?

  • it can seep into a home through dirt floors, cracks in foundation and floors, sumps, gaps around pipes, basement drains
  • it moves easily through concrete-block walls because they are so porous
  • Radon trapped in water from wells can be released into the air when the water is used. Note, the health risk is not from ingestion but from the radon inhalation.

Of course, there is nothing plain and simple when it comes to Radon.

  • you can’t see, smell, or taste it
  • it’s concentrations fluctuate seasonally
  • it’s concentrations are usually higher in winter than in summer
  • it’s concentrations are usually higher at night than during the day
  • concentration levels will vary from one house to another, even if they are similar and next door to each other
  • generally, radon levels are highest in the basement but occasionally higher levels can be found on other floors

Radon Gas detectorThe only way to know if you have a radon problem is to test your home.  Home kits are available at local hardware stores.  Health Canada recommends that houses be tested for a minimum of 3 months, ideally during the winter (October to April) when windows and doors are typically kept closed.

Here are some links on Radon but there are many more.

Health Canada  Manitoba Health