Radon: Clearing The Air

Radon is a colourless and odourless radioactive gas that is released from the soil into the air as uranium breaks down naturally in the environment. It is commonly found in higher concentrations where there are high levels of uranium, granite, shale, or phosphate in the soil and bedrock.

Radon can seep into your home through dirt floor basements, cracks in the foundation, sump pumps, joints, drains, and porous concrete blocks, In the air, radon is usually present at low enough concentration to pose no health risks, but in confined spaces in can accumulate to higher levels and become a health hazard. In fact, radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer after smoking.

High levels of radon have been found in home in the Ottawa area, but because of variations in home building and soil composition, your neighbour’s radon levels may be entirely different from yours. That’s why a test is the best way to evaluation your potential exposure. The process is simple: a small testing canister is exposed to the air in the main living area of your home for a fixed period of time, usually a few months, October to April, when your home is less ventilated and radon is more likely to accumulate in the air. Radon test kits are available for purchase from Ottawa Public Health for $25 to $170, depending on the model.

Depending in the radon level detected in your home, there are a variety of methods to mitigate the problem, ranging from the repair of seepage point and improvement of ventilation, especially in the basement. The Canadian Nation Radon Proficiency Program can help you to find local professional who specialize in radon mitigation and the installation of the necessary equipment to reduce your exposure and keep your home’s air quality safe and healthy.

Mitigation can cost between $2,000-$5,000, depending on the home and the extent of the problem. It is a significant cost. If you are shopping for a new house, you might consider requesting a radon test from the current owner before closing, to ensure that the cost of remediation can be taken into consideration when you finalize your purchase. And if you are selling your home, dealing with radon testing and mitigation before bringing it to the market can help ensure a smooth sale process. We can help. To learn more, contact our office for details.