The facts on Radon and why it matters to your family’s health

by Jeffrey Brookfield11 Oct 2017
Radon is a naturally occurring gas that is formed by the breakdown of uranium in the soil. Uranium is a radioactive material found in rock and soil throughout Canada. The reason that radon is of concern is that it is a cancer-causing natural gas that you can’t see, smell or taste.

Although radon is found in outdoor air, it becomes more of an issue when it enters a home through the basement walls or floor. Radon typically moves up through the ground to the air above and into your home through cracks and other holes in the foundation. Your home can trap radon inside, where the concentrations can then build up.

Exposure to radon increases your risk of developing lung cancer. Radon gas can be breathed into the lungs where it breaks down further and emits alpha particles releasing small bursts of energy that are absorbed by nearby lung tissue. This results in lung cell death or damage. When damaged, lung cells have the potential to become cancerous when reproduced.

Your risk of developing lung cancer from radon depends on the concentration of radon in the air you breathe and the length of time you are exposed. The National Cancer Institute of Canada estimated 19,300 deaths from lung cancer in 2006. Radon was the cause of 10% of these deaths. In fact, exposure to radon is the leading cause of lung cancer after smoking. Radon concentrations tend to be greater on the lower levels of a home. A person who sleeps or spends much of their time in the basement will be more at risk than others who occupy higher levels in the same house if radon is present.

It is assumed 75% of a person’s time is spent at home. The more time spent at home implies a higher risk of inhaling radon if it is present.

Also, important to note is that any home may have a radon problem. This means new and old homes, well-sealed and drafty homes, and homes with or without basements. Concrete-block walls are particularly porous to radon.

The only real question to ask is, “when is the last time your home was tested for radon gas?” Since radon exists in every home at different levels, the only way to determine if you and your family are at risk is to have your home tested.

Homeowners should not rely on radon “maps” or other tests in your community since radon levels can vary from home to home in the same area. Have your home checked by a certified professional, like AmeriSpec, to protect your home and your family.

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