Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Is radon an issue in your home?

A home radon test kit can easily be tucked out of the way.
I have been hearing about radon for years but never gave it much thought in relation to my own home. In Maine, where my brother runs a home inspection company, it’s a standard part of many home inspections, and making necessary repairs to lower radon levels can be a requirement of sale. 

Because it didn’t come up with our home inspections I assumed that radon wasn’t a worry in New Brunswick or at least not in our part of the province. But then a flyer appeared in the local newspaper, a one-page info sheet about radon that was distributed by the NB Lung Association. According to the Association, New Brunswick has some of the highest radon levels in the country and close to one in five NB homes has radon levels higher that what Health Canada considers safe.  

The NB Lung Association is in the midst of a public education campaign because radon is considered the leading cause of lung cancer among non-smokers (and the second leading cause of lung cancer overall). An odorless, radioactive gas formed naturally in the ground and emitted from some rock and soil, radon can build up in enclosed spaces (like homes) and long-term exposure to radon increases the risk of lung cancer to one in twenty. Among smokers, the risk increases to one in three.  

With stats like that it’s important to know if radon is an issue in your home. 

You can pick up a radon test kit at the hardware store or order one through the NB Lung Association ($35 and they mail it to your home). If you’re buying a kit at the hardware store NB Lung Association stresses that you need to buy a long-term kit (3-month test) saying that they’re more accurate. To order yours call 1-800-565-LUNG or email info@nb.lung.ca. 

Our home test kit arrived a couple of weeks ago. I was expecting a soup can-sized kit but it’s less than half the size of a hockey puck. You place it in lowest level of your house that you use regularly (where you spend four hours a day or more, but not in a kitchen) and at least a couple of feet off the floor. We don’t spend time in our basement so I put our kit in the living room, on the back of the sideboard where it won`t be disturbed. At the end of three months we’ll mail it off to a lab in Massachusetts and within two weeks will receive the results.    

The Canadian guideline for radon is 200 becquerels per cubic meter. But even low levels of radon can be harmful so it’s important to fix the source of the leaks even if your test detects a lower reading.  

Radon can seep into your home through windows, cracks in basement floors, sump pumps, unfinished floors and spaces around pipes. Radon leaks are usually very fixable. There are contractors experienced with radon mitigation who can find the source of any leaks and make the necessary repairs.

No comments: