The Facts About Radon


Did you know that November is Radon Action Month across Canada?

Radon may not be as well-known as, say, carbon monoxide (CO), but just like CO, radon is colourless, odourless, and can be a significant health risk; especially in confined spaces.

With that in mind, the D&B ClimateCare team would like to share some key facts about radon.

Where does radon come from?

While carbon monoxide is a by-product of burning fuel, radon is a naturally occurring gas that’s found underground.

Here’s how it’s formed:

  • Uranium found in soil breaks down.
  • As the uranium breaks down, radon gas is released.
  • Radon gas travels upwards through the soil.

Eventually, radon enters the home wherever it comes into contact with the ground, such as pipes, drains, or cracks through the foundation.

Radon Gas

How dangerous is radon?

When radon escapes into the air outside, it’s pretty harmless. But when radon builds up in a confined space or room, it can be quite hazardous.

That’s because radon is radioactive.

Breathing in radon causes it to stick to your lungs. As the gas breaks down inside your chest, it gives off radiation that damages lung tissue’s DNA.

Prolonged exposure to radon can lead to lung cancer. In fact, radon exposure is the number one cause of lung cancer in non-smokers:

Statistics show that more Canadians die of lung cancer from radon than they do in car accidents, carbon monoxide poisoning, and house fires combined.

How can you protect your home and family?

While there is no known test to detect radon poisoning, the following symptoms could be caused by radon:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Constant coughing
  • Wheezing
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Respiratory infections
  • Coughing up blood.

Get to a hospital immediately if you or anyone else exhibits these signs.

Radon testing looks for elevated levels in areas prone to exposure, such as basements, crawl spaces, and other poorly-ventilated locations.

Testing is usually done in two phases:

  1. A radon measurement professional (Dave Murtland here at D&B ClimateCare) installs and collects radon detectors.
  2. A radon analytical laboratory analyzes the results from radon detectors and provides a report to your radon measurement professional.

What should you do if you have radon in your home?

According to Health Canada, radon levels at 200 Becquerels per cubic metre (200 Bq/m3) are dangerous.

Radon mitigation is the process of reducing radon levels in the home and can take a variety of forms, including:

  • Installing a radon reduction system.
  • Soil suctioning that draws radon through a pipe and vents it into the air outside the home.
  • Sealing cracks and other openings in your home’s foundation where radon can seep through.
  • Installing a heat recovery ventilator (HRV) to improve ventilation in your home.
  • Opening doors, windows, and vents to quickly, yet temporarily, reduce radon levels.

These are just some general suggestions. A radon mitigation professional will determine the most effective way to deal with your situation.

A few more radon facts

  • Radon is the heaviest known gas. It’s 9 times heavier than air
  • Living in a radon filled home for 12 years is equal to smoking 10 packs of cigarettes per day.
  • Radon is especially prevalent in the winter, when doors and windows are kept closed.
  • All homes have some levels or radon.
  • In the early 20th century, people paid money to be exposed to radon, as they thought it was beneficial to health.

Radon Test

Keep your family safe with radon testing from D&B ClimateCare

Anytime is a good time for radon testing, especially if:

  • You plan on selling your home.
  • You plan on buying a new home.
  • You have – or will have – children.
  • You’re going to renovate the basement.

Slowly but surely, more Canadians are becoming aware of radon. In 2013, 45% of households had heard of radon. In 2015, that number jumped to 55%.

If you’re concerned about radon, contact us now to schedule testing for your home.