Is there Radon in your home?
Once in a while the media jumps on a topic and brings it to our attention. And when the news is short on natural disasters, deadly crashes and mass murders, it shifts to making us nervous about what other sorts of things might be lurking around us. Once a year or so, that topic is radon gas.
While it receives little press, it does deserve some of our attention. Really, it’s not much different than its cousin carbon monoxide in that it’s something that can quietly do harm to you without you even knowing about it. While many people have added CO2 detectors in their homes, the detection system for radon is not on most people’s radar.
Here are some facts about radon. It is a colourless, odorless gas that gets emitted from the ground due to the natural breakdown of uranium in the soil. When radon is released into the atmosphere it gets diluted and poses negligible risk to human health. However if it accumulates inside a home it can pose a health risk. Think of natural gas. If there is a leak and it seeps into the air, it just smells funny. But if it collects in a building and a spark happens, well it gives another meaning to the big bang theory.
The Lung Association of Saskatchewan estimates that radon exposure may be the cause of 10-16% of lung cancers. Because testing is still new, there is no real pattern uncovered yet as to what areas in the country or province are more susceptible to radon concentrations. While we aren’t in an area that has enough uranium to mine, it is still in our soil and because of that, testing is always a good way to determine if it is an issue in your house. Local hardware stores carry a variety of testing methods from short term kits that range from $15-$20 to a higher-recommended long term kit costing around $40. The short term ones are okay if you need a quicker result, but the test that takes longer can be more representative of the conditions in your home.
The good news about radon is that it can always be remedied, according to the information I found. Unlike some conditions in a home that can’t be addressed, the web sites I saw said that even a large concentration of radon can be corrected by some simple measures such as air circulation and sealing cracks in basement walls and floors. Mitigation costs can range from $2,500 to $5,000 depending on what has to be done, but still a small price to pay for your health.
Here are some links to inform about radon gas, or you can search it online yourselves for more information.