In November, the Government of Canada created National Radon Action Month, to help raise awareness about environmental factors that can impact the health of our lungs.
It is estimated that about 10% of all lung cancers worldwide are related to radon exposure1. Unfortunately, exposure to this gas kills more than 3,200 Canadians each year2. In fact, 7 out of 10 Canadians we surveyed do not monitor radon at home1.5.
For this reason and more, Health Canada recommends that homeowners test for radon3. They state "Lung cancer (along with colorectal, breast and prostate cancers) is one of the four types that make up close to 50% of all cancer cases diagnosed in Canada. Lung Cancer Awareness Month is an opportunity to learn more about the signs and symptoms of this disease, and to take action to prevent it."3.5
Radon monitoring is easy, and will arm you with the data you need to make simple changes around your home to reduce levels, and therefore your exposure to radon.
- What is radon?
- Should I test for radon?
- What are the radon guidelines in Canada?
- Does Canada have high radon levels?
It is a naturally occurring radioactive gas that can cause lung cancer in high quantities over long periods of time.
Radon enters the home through cracks and other holes in the foundation, getting trapped at any level of the property. It is odourless, colourless and invisible. Due to the way it enters properties, homes can have varying levels of radon depending on numerous factors. It is therefore important to test each individual home for a long period of time.
You can learn more about radon here.
Why should you test for radon?
- Radon is undetectable by human senses. It is an invisible, odorless, colorless gas that can seep into your home through the ground.
- Though radon is the number one cause of lung cancer amongst non-smokers, a huge 71% of Canadians we surveyed do not monitor radon1.5.
- It is estimated that about 10% of all lung cancers worldwide are related to radon exposure2.
- Unfortunately, exposure to this gas kills more than 3,200 Canadians each year2.
- Seasonality, ventilation, structural changes and location all make a difference to radon levels, which may result in you having different readings to your neighbours.
- High radon levels are easily resolved. Increasing ventilation, small fixes around the home can make a difference. If necessary DIY mitigation is possible, or if levels persist, calling a mitigation specialist can help.
- There is a wide range of radon monitors available for every scenario. Including, homes, businesses, and by professionals.
What are the radon guidelines in Canada?
Health Canada recommends that homeowners test for radon. They state “Radon testing can be easily carried out by the homeowner using special detectors available from commercial businesses”4, such as the Airthings home or Wave device.
Knowing when to make changes to reduce your levels in your home varies from country to country. If levels of radon are above 200 Bq/m3, the Canadian radon guidelines state that mitigation measures must be implemented5. In fact, this level was updated from 2007, whereby the previous guideline was much higher. Considering the health impact, it is not a surprise that this level was reduced.
At Airthings, we recommend taking mitigation action if levels are consistently above 150Bq/m3. You can read more about how to act on your radon levels here.
Does Canada have high radon levels?
At Airthings, we are obsessed with all things air quality. Our radon and indoor air quality monitors are loved by thousands worldwide. Because of this, we have unique insight into data from sensors across the world, broken down by location and anonymized.
Similarly, as part of our research, we created radonmap.com, a free map for all to see home radon levels in their local area. Our data scientists can also see specific trends in an area, here’s what they found in Canada.
This high number, where one in four households registered high radon levels in November, led us to look into it further. What about 2019 as a whole? We know there is such as a thing as radon season, approximately between October and January. Could this be the cause of the high radon levels?
To get a better understanding of this, we broke down the data regionally. In the three Provinces we focused on, each had issues.
In Manitoba Province. We looked at the whole of 2019, and found that 8.83% of Airthings detectors had high levels of radon levels for 30 consecutive days7.
Similarly, in Quebec Province, we looked at the whole of 2019, and found that 7.7% of Airthings detectors had high levels of radon levels for 30 consecutive days8.
Finally, noting the trend in the other areas, we looked for similar readings in Ontario Province. In 2019, 4.26% of compatible Airthings detectors had high levels of radon levels for 30 consecutive days in Ontario Province9.
At Airthings, if radon levels are high (above 150Bq/m3) for a month or more we recommend reducing your levels and monitoring the results. This can be achieved through a professional radon mitigation service, or in some cases by changes you can make around your home.
With radon, it is important to note that there are many factors that can impede readings. Seasonality, ventilation, structural changes and location all make a difference, which may result in you having different readings to your neighbours.
The best way to know the air you are breathing is clean and safe is by monitoring long term, with a detector that will track changes so you don't have to think about it!