“Hi, my name is Kerri Tucker. I'm a lung cancer survivor who has never smoked. I urge you to watch my radon story so you can protect your family.”
You can't see it, taste it, or smell it. The only way to know how much radon is in your home is to test for it with a long-term radon test kit.
Radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer. Radon is a radioactive gas that comes from the natural breakdown of uranium. All homes have some level of radon. The question is, how much? You can't see, taste, or smell radon. The only way to know how much radon is in your home is to test for it.
As radon breaks down it forms radioactive particles that can get lodged into your lung tissue as you breathe. The radon particles release energy that can damage the cells in your lungs. When the cells in your lungs are damaged, there is the possibility of developing lung cancer. Radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer and Canada is a hot spot.
Most of the time the air pressure inside your home is lower than the pressure in the soil surrounding your home's foundation. This difference in pressure can draw air and other gases in the soil, including radon, into the house. Gas containing radon can enter your home at any opening where the house contacts the soil. These openings can be present any home, new or old.
Health Canada Radon Guidelines and the latest research recommends that in order for test results to be both accurate and reliable, it is important to use a certified long-term (minimum of 3 month) radon test kit. Some retailers sell short-term radon test kits that are not supported by evidence-based best practices and guidelines.
There is no completely safe level of radon. Home owners are encouraged to reduce radon levels to be as low as reasonably possible. The Canadian guideline for radon in indoor air is 200 Bq/m3 (becquerels per cubic metre).
Techniques to lower radon levels are effective and can save lives. Radon levels in most homes can be reduced by more than 80% for about the same cost as other common home repairs such as replacing the furnace or air conditioner.
What can I do if I have high levels of radon in my home?
The best way to lower radon levels is with a certified radon mitigation (reduction) professional who is certified with the Canadian - National Radon Proficiency Program (C-NRPP). They are trained to properly assess your home and design systems that efficiently and effectively reduce your radon level.
A radon mitigation system is installed so a fan draws air (and radon) up from beneath the foundation to the outdoors. This way it does not enter the home.
Often, the work involved to reduce radon levels can be done in one day comparable to a new furnace.
Depending on the year of construction of a home, building codes require installation of a radon stub pipe through the foundation of the house. This is not a mitigation system, but simply a rough in. It will NOT reduce radon levels without an installed system.
Learn more about reducing radon from Health Canada's Radon Reduction Guide: www.canada.ca/en/health-canada/services/health-risks-safety/radiation/radon.html.
Find a C-NRPP Certified Radon Reduction Mitigation Professional near you at www.c-nrpp.ca.
Radon levels can vary between neighbouring homes. The only way to know how much radon is in a home is to test for it.
The Lung Association thanks Kerri and her family for courageously sharing Kerri's radon story. We are always looking for Radon Ambassadors. We would love for you to inspire others to take action on radon and ultimately help prevent lung cancer.