Radon Gas exists everywhere as a naturally occurring decay product of uranium. Radon Gas is measured by collecting particles given off from the decay process of the gas over its half life of 3.8 days. This is because while scientifically we know there is Radon Gas there is virtually no easy way to actually test it directly and this is why a process was developed to test for its decay products.
Depending on several different items. Radon Gas concentrations in our soil and therefore in our homes can vary greatly between homes and buildings. Just because the home next to someone tested low or high for Radon gas levels does not mean that home or business is going to test the same.
Controlled testing in locations across Canada showed concentrations in one home at below the 200BEQ/m3 benchmark but the one right next to it was at over 600BEQ/m3. This was found to be the case all across the country.
Since radon is odourless, tasteless and colourless it is one of those background hazards that until recently wasn't on the minds of a lot of people. Radon is not a fast acting cancer hazard because it takes on average over 7 years to possibly develop cancer if it is going to develop in a person. Smokers living in homes with above minimum levels of radon gas in their homes have shown a much higher risk of developing lung cancer. This is one of the main reasons Health Canada is recommending every building should be tested.
Health Canada has set a guideline for radon gas concentrations in residential properties and most general commercial properties at 200BEQ/m3 (bequarls per meter cubed) as a relative safe level. This safe level does not mean that if a home, school, daycare or business has a level this low that no one residing there or working there will not develop cancer. As for everything guilines and upper and lower limits need to be set to provide benchmarks.
The guidelines for radon are as follows:
1. Below 200BEQ/m3 a radon mitigation system is fully up to the person or company getting the test done.
2. Between 200 to 600BEQ/m3 a mitigation system is recommended to be installed within 2 years.
3. Above 600BEQ/m3 a mitigation system is recommended to be installed within one year.
There are test kits available at some local hardware stores as well as directly from Health Canada. The difference between using one of those kits and having a professional come to the home or business to set up the test is that professional can go over everything and properly determine the placement of test samplers. Also there have been instances where the locally available kit packaging had been damaged and since radon gas is everywhere it will penetrate the container and give a false reading as to the levels. The professional measurement technician will test the sample they are using at the time of the installation and keep a record of that measurement giving an accurate starting point and ending point for the measurement.
There are short term and long term test units. The short term test only takes a few days. It is not deemed a very accurate test and is only a rough idea at best and a potential false sense of well being.
A long term test is always recommended as the best course to follow. It takes between 6 to 9 months and a professional measurement tech will usually set up a short term test to get a snapshot of what to expect.
Test samplers are set up in areas of the business or home where people are spending on average of 4 hours per day. Most homes for an initial short term test should have 3 sample locations depending on the size of the home. Schools, daycares, businesses have a much different set of guidlines for sampling and are to variable to discuss here.
George Adair, Certified Professional Home Inspector
I provide a wide range of home inspection and home inspection related services in the following areas of southern Manitoba: Winnipeg, Selkirk , Lockport,Steinbach,
Stony Mountain, Elie, Rosser, Lorette Sanford, East St. Paul, West St. Paul, Oak Bank,
Oak Bluff, Landmark,
St. Anne, Saint Andrews,
La Salle, Richer, Niverville and Warren.
Our extended area also includes: Lac Du Bonnet, Beausejour, Libeau, Gimli, Pinawa, Falcon Beach, Winnipeg Beach, Grand Marais, Saint Laurent, and Pine Falls