A Guide to Radon Exposure: What You Need To Know To Protect Your Family
When you imagine your dream home, you likely focus on location, housing type, layout and finishes. How about imagining yourself thriving and healthy between the walls that comprise your home? It goes without saying, that that is a crucial part of the picture, but there is an additional element of blissful homeownership. We spend a lot of time, when securing a home, focusing on the things that you can see. What about the things that you can’t see?
And we’re not talking about what’s hidden within the structure. We’re talking about the air you, your family, and your friends breathe every single day, both awake and asleep. Specifically, we are talking about radon exposure.
What is radon exactly?
Radon is defined as “a radioactive gas that is odourless, colourless, and tasteless. It is produced by the breakdown of uranium found in sediment (soil), rocks, and water. When radon is released into the atmosphere it gets diluted and poses negligible risk to human health.”
Radon exists throughout Canada, but can vary from area to area, depending on the composition of the bedrock or sediment upon which a house is built. Between 2009 and 2011, Health Canada conducted a study on radon concentrations at a representation of 14,000 homes across the country. Results from the study showed that seven percent of these homeowners were living with high levels of radon and that radon levels vary widely in different geographical regions.
What are the implications?
You may not realize that as radon is a naturally occurring gas in the atmosphere, it is automatically present in your home. While lower levels of radon pose no threat to your health, higher levels can be very dangerous. This effect can be compounded when the air in question is indoors. If it accumulates, then the danger increases.
Radon, when inhaled in larger quantities, remains in the lungs and causes decay, and eventually can contribute to cancer (Radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer and it is estimated
that 16 per cent of lung cancer deaths among Canadians are attributable to indoor radon exposure, according to Health Canada). This is why Health Canada recommends that all homeowners get their homes tested for radon exposure.
How does it get into my house?
Like we said, radon naturally occurs from the sediment, soil and bedrock upon which your home is built. It can creep in to your home through cracks in the foundation or floors as well as through gaps around service pipes, window casements, sump pumps and generally where the seal between house and nature is not airtight.
Home construction guidelines now require design and construction elements that are meant to impede radon from entering the home. However, these are not foolproof, which is why Health Canada recommends that everyone test their homes, regardless of their age.
How do you test for radon?
You can’t see, taste or smell radon, so you need to employ other mechanisms. You can either purchase a do-it-yourself kit, or employ a certified radon professional.
Because levels of radon vary over time, it is recommended that you test for a three month period to ensure and accurate reading. For further information on the do-it-yourself radon test kits, contact Health Canada at firstname.lastname@example.org or 1-866-225-0709. These kits retail for around $25-$75. Certified Radon professionals can be located through the website for the Canadian Radon Proficiency Program.
According to Health Canada, remedial action should be taken if “the average annual radon concentration exceeds 200 becquerels (which is the unit of measurement scientist use to measure the concentration) per cubic metre (200 Bq/m³) in the normal occupancy area. The higher the radon concentration, the sooner remedial measures should be undertaken.”
For most, homeownership is one of the most rewarding experiences that exist. Pride of ownership, along with the opportunity to throw down roots and express yourself within your own walls really is unparalleled, but what this underscores too is the responsibility that goes along with that pleasure.
At Urbaneer, we pride ourselves in having our fingers on the pulse of the Toronto real estate market. With a multi-disciplinary education on the Toronto housing market including finance, construction, design, urban planning and the psychology of housing and home, plus over twenty-five years of renovation, development, sales and marketing experience, we are a unique full-service real estate boutique with a sterling reputation. Do you need help navigating your housing choices, and to determine your next move? Are you a Seller seeking a custom strategy to garner top dollar? We are here to help! Call us at 416-322-8000!
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