Radon is a radioactive gas that comes from the ground. It is formed as a product of the breakdown of uranium in the soil. It is invisible, odourless, and tasteless and can seep into buildings undetected in areas where the house comes into contact with the ground.
Radon poses a serious health risk when it accumulates in buildings because long-term exposure to high levels of radon for an extended period of time can cause lung cancer. In Canada, radon gas is the second leading cause of lung cancer.
Health Canada estimates that about 16% of lung cancer deaths (~3,200 per year) in Canada are attributed to radon.
Radon can seep in and accumulate undetected through areas where the house comes in contact with the soil. Possible entry points include cracks in foundation walls and floor slabs, construction joints, gaps around service pipes, support posts, window casements, floor drains, sumps or cavities inside walls, dirt floors, etc.
Unfortunately, New Brunswick has the highest concentrations of radon of any province in Canada. 1 in 4 homes ( 25% ) has radon levels over 200 Bq/m3, the Canadian average is 1 in 14 homes ( 7% ).
Long-term radon exposure is the 2nd leading cause of lung cancer after smoking and the leading cause of lung cancer in people who have never smoked.
The majority of lung cancer deaths are caused by smoking. Radon exposure is linked to approximately 16% of lung cancer deaths in Canada and is the second leading cause of lung cancer for smokers. If you smoke or have smoked and your home has high radon levels, your risk of lung cancer is especially high.
If you’ve tested your home and the radon level is above the Canadian Guideline of 200 Bq/m3, Health Canada recommends that you take action to lower the level. The higher the radon concentrations, the sooner action should be taken to reduce levels to as low as practically possible. While the health risk from radon exposure below the Canadian Guideline is small there is no level that is considered risk free. It is the choice of each homeowner to decide what level of radon exposure they are willing to accept.
A number of factors can affect radon levels in a building. High radon levels can occur in any building regardless of age, heating system, foundation type, geographic location, air tightness, ventilation rate or building materials used.
The amount of radon in your home will depend on: