Radon Testing Services
WHAT IS RADON?
Radon is a radioactive gas that is found naturally in the environment. Radon is formed from the breakdown of uranium, found in soil, rock and groundwater. Radon gas is inert, colorless and odorless, and is found in the atmosphere in trace amounts. Outdoors, radon disperses rapidly and, generally, is not a health issue. Most radon exposure occurs inside homes, schools and workplaces. Radon gas becomes trapped indoors after it enters buildings through cracks and other holes in the foundation. Indoor radon can be controlled and managed with proven, cost-effective techniques.
Breathing radon over time increases your risk of lung cancer. Radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer. Nationally about 21,000 people die each year from radon-related lung cancer. Only smoking causes more lung cancer deaths.
SCIENCE FACT: The risks to human health posed by ionizing radiation are well known. Radon gas is by far the most important source of ionizing radiation among gases of natural origin. Radon (Rn-222) is a noble gas formed from radium (Ra-226), which is a decay product of uranium (U-238). Uranium and radium occur naturally in soils and rocks. Other decay products of uranium include the isotopes thoron (Rn-220) and actinon (Rn-219). Radon gas, which has a half-life of 3.8 days, emanates from rocks and soils and tends to concentrate in enclosed spaces, such as underground mines or houses. It is a major contributor to the ionizing radiation dose received by the general population. (Information courtesy of Health Canada & Internachi)
WHERE DOES RADON COME FROM?
Radon is a gas produced by the radioactive decay of the element radium. Radioactive decay is a natural, spontaneous process in which an atom of one element decays or breaks down to form another element by losing atomic particles (protons, neutrons, or electrons). When solid radium decays to form radon gas, it loses two protons and two neutrons. These two protons and two neutrons are called an alpha particle, which is a type of radiation. Elements that produce radiation are referred to as radioactive. Radon itself is radioactive because it also decays, losing an alpha particle and forming the element polonium.
Radon is generated in rock and soil, and it creeps through cracks or spaces between particles up to the outside air. Although outdoor concentrations of radon are typically low, about 0.4 picocuries per liter (pCi/l) of air, it can seep into buildings through foundation cracks or openings and build up to much higher concentrations indoors, if the sources are large enough.
The average indoor radon concentration is about 50-100 Becquerels of air. It is not uncommon, though, for indoor radon levels to be found in the access of 200 Becquerels/meter3.
The concentration of radon measured in a house depends on many factors, including the design of the house, local geology and soil conditions, and the weather. Radon's decay products are all metallic solids, and when radon decay occurs in air, the decay products can cling to aerosols and dust, which makes them available for inhalation into the lungs.
Radon dissolves easily in water. In areas of the country that have high radium content in soils and rocks, local groundwater may contain high concentrations of radon. For example, underlying rock such as granite or phosphate rock typically has increased uranium and radium, and therefore increased radon. While radon dissolves easily into water, it also easily escapes from water when exposed to the atmosphere, especially if it is stirred or agitated. Consequently, radon concentrations are very low in rivers and lakes, but could still be high in water pumped from the ground.
HEALTH RISK COMPARISON
Radon is a worldwide health risk in homes. Most radon-induced lung cancers occur from low- and medium-dose exposures in people's homes. If inhaled, radon particles can damage lung tissue. Radon is the second most important cause of lung cancer after smoking in many countries.
- Lung cancer kills thousands of people every year. Smoking, radon, and second hand smoke are the leading causes of lung cancer. Although lung cancer can be treated, the survival rate is one of the lowest among all those with cancer. From the time of diagnosis, between 11 and 15% of those afflicted will live beyond five years, depending upon demographic factors. In many cases, lung cancer can be prevented.
- Smoking is the leading cause of lung cancer. And the rate among women is rising. A smoker who is also exposed to radon has a much higher risk of lung cancer.
- Radon is the number-one cause of lung cancer among non-smoker
Second hand smoke is the third-leading cause of lung cancer and responsible for an estimated 3,000 lung cancer deaths every year. Smoking affects non-smokers by exposing them to second hand smoke. Exposure to second hand smoke can have serious consequences for children’s health, including asthma attacks, effects on the respiratory tract (e.g., bronchitis, pneumonia), and possibly causing ear infections.
WHY TEST FOR RADON?
- Radon is the #1 cause of lung cancer for non-smokers.
- Radon levels can vary widely from one home to another, even on the same street.
- With no smell, no colour and no taste the only way to know how much radon is in your home is to test for it.
- Health Canada stresses the importance of having every homeowner test their home, regardless of whether your community is known to have high radon levels. (Health Canada)
Studies Find Direct Evidence Linking Radon in Homes to Lung Cancer
Studies show definitive evidence of an association between residential radon exposure and lung cancer.
BOOKING YOUR RADON TEST
The first step is taking action. If you have health concerns or live in a high geographical radon location then we strongly recommend that you book a Radon Test. Equipment used by the Inspection Services Group is C-NRPP approved. All our inspectors are certified and trained and will provide you with a full report on the radon conditions in your home.
The best time to conduct your radon test is during the heating season. Radon levels vary from day to day and from season to season, and the highest radon levels are generally found during the winter when our homes are sealed more tightly than during the summer months.
- During winter indoor air is warmer than the surrounding soil, which tends to pull more radon gas inside.
- During the summer, open windows provide good ventilation and will often reduce the radon levels inside a home.
Short Term Testing can give a snap shot but may not provide the most accurate results. For these reasons, it’s best to test for 91 days during the heating season to get the best picture of the radon levels inside your home.
HOW THE TEST WORKS
Testing location: Typical measurement locations usually are basement or basement bedrooms. A bedroom is optimal because people generally are sleeping there.
Deploy Radon Device: The preferred location is by an interior wall at a height of 0.8 m to 2 m (3 to 6.5 ft) from the floor in the typical breathing zone, however, at least 50 cm (20 in) from the ceiling and 20 cm (8 in) from other objects so as to allow normal airflow around the dosimeter. Devices should be placed approximately 40 cm (16 in) from an interior wall or approximately 50 cm (20 in) from an exterior wall.
Retrieval and Radon Test: Retrieval of device and data interpretation