Radon In Your Home

Radon In Your Home

Get to know about more about Radon, which is a radioactive, colorless and odorless gas that poses a risk to our health and can be present in houses. At Goldeye Home Inspection we are here to help so please contact us with any questions you may have. We service Guelph and the surrounding area.


Hi Steve for GoldEye Home Inspection

here again and I'm going to dig a little

deeper into radon. Radon is a radioactive

gas it's colorless odorless and

it's an emerging issue in homes. Recent

studies have shown that it's the second

leading cause of lung cancer behind

smoking so it's very important to know

about. Also surveys have shown

that here in southern Ontario there are

areas that have elevated levels of radon

in the soil as well as in homes so it's

something that we need to deal with. So

let's talk about radioactivity first of

all. Radioactivity basically means that

the substance or the atoms of the

substance are unstable and so every so

often one of them will shoot a little

particle off. Depending on the type of

substance that is that particle can

crash into other things and cause damage

like our DNA.  DNA damage that

can develop into cancer. So that process

is called a decay and as a substance

does that the atom will actually become

something else and I'll talk a little

bit about that and why that's important.in a minute.

 I mentioned the DNA

damage that can be caused. It happens all

the time where were exposed to

radioactivity or other things quite a

bit and our body can repair that or

remove those cells that have had too

much damage. Unless that exposure to

radioactivity is too high or it occurs over

too long a period. And so in our homes-

we're in our homes a lot or in our

workplaces. It's important to know what

kind of exposures were having and so

that's why measuring radon is important.

So where does radon come from? Well other

radioactive substances in the soil

Uranium is also radioactive. So it decays

and it becomes Radium

Radium also decays and it becomes

radon. Both uranium and radium or

solids so they'll just stay in the

soil but radon is a gas. So it will

seep up into whatever surface that it

reaches either the surface of the ground in open areas and

then that will just dissipate into the

atmosphere naturally. Or if it comes into

contact with a home if there are cracks

in the foundation or any avenue for it

to get into the home, it'll seep in. And

depending on the ventilation in the home it may

just build up. So that's typically where

we're measuring for radon-

in the lower levels of the home. If

there's not ventilation or a way to get

rid of it. That's what causes the hazard

and what we're interested in measuring.

So radon as I mentioned is a gas. It gets

into the house and when it decays,

through several different paths it will

create decay products that are solid. And

this is another element or another

idea that we have to get our heads

around. The radon itself isn't

the only issue. It's those solid decay

products that will attach to dust

particles or you know whatever they can

attach to in the home and we can end up

breathing them in. And those decay

products that are the  first steps in the chain,

are also radioactive. And so if we

breathe them in they get into our lungs

and we will get those radioactive decays

happening over a period of time as they

sit in our lungs.

I talked about

measuring. how do we measure? Well there

are different devices that can be used

Health Canada recommends that we always

do a 90 day minimum test. The reason

for that is that radon levels can

fluctuate both at home and the upper

levels of soil because of weather

conditions vary quite a bit

through the year and from year to year. So they always

recommend 90 days. And the best time for

a house is to measure is in winter

because the windows and doors are closed

and the radon won't just naturally seep

out of the house through the windows and

doors. So it can build up there and it

gives them more accurate level of the

issue within that home. So,  minimum

90 days in winter and then they also

recommend every few years because as I

said there can be some natural variation

and we want to know if it's it's

relatively low one year and higher a

couple years later. So what do you do

about it if you if you find that there

is elevated levels in your home. Well the

best place to start is to keep it out in

the first place. So building codes have

changed to try to do that with some of

the house foundation wraps and that sort

of thing to to keep the gas from

seeping in in the first place.

Another option for builders is to rough

in what's called a mitigation system and

that basically allows air from beneath

the slab of the floor to be drawn out by

what is essentially a vacuum cleaner and

then pumped up into the atmosphere where

it can dissipate naturally. If you have

an older home and these things aren't

already available for you those

mitigation systems can be installed but

it's a little bit more involved. they

have to drill or break up part of the

floor to do that. If you're down in the

levels that are below the action limit...

Maybe I should talk about action limits

first here for a little bit.

Health Canada recommends that if the

levels are above two hundred becquerels

per meter cubed  Becquerels per meter

cubed is just the unit that we measure

here in Canada. In the u.s. they use some

different ones and so I'll just stick

with Becquerels per meter cubed. Above


within two years you should probably

take some steps to lower those levels.

And if it's above 600 then within one year

you should be making those changes. So if you're

below 200 what do you do. Do you say

okay, you just just live with whatever

you've got? Well there are things that

you can do to lower them and it's always

a good idea to get them as low as

possible. So number one- Ventilation.  Get

some air flow going through the basement

and so you get fresh air coming in and

the radon going out and it can

dissipate naturally.The second thing is

those decay products those solid

products that may may be stuck to dust

particles or that sort of thing. Filtration.

Filter them out- get them out

of out of the air that you're breathing

so that they don't get into your lungs

where they can decay over and over.

 So that's been a little bit of

information about radon for you. If you

have any questions on this please let me

know- give me a call, send me an email and

I'd be happy to discuss it further with

you and take a look at your home and

what's the best approach there. Again I'm

Steve from GoldEye Home Inspection and

today's talk has been about Radon.

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