Want to borrow a short term radon test kit? Inquire at the front desk at either MMPL branch or or place a hold from our online catalogue.
What is radon?
Radon is a naturally occurring radioactive gas released when uranium in soil and/or rock breaks down. Radon is invisible, odourless and tasteless. Radon does not tend to be a health issue outdoors, as atmospheric mixing dilutes the gas to low concentrations. However, in a confined space – like a basement – radon can accumulate to high levels, which can present a health risk.
How can I be exposed?
Radon can seep into a building through dirt floors, cracks in foundations or concrete, sump pumps, joints and basement drains. Well water can also contain trapped radon, which may be released into the air when water is drawn.
How can it affect me?
When a radioactive gas, like radon, is inhaled, it naturally breaks down into radioactive particles that can be trapped in your lungs when you breathe in. This may cause damage to lung tissue, which can develop into lung cancer over the course of a lifetime. Your health risk can vary depending the amount of radon in your home or workplace, the length of exposure to radon and smoking habits or second hand smoke exposure. Radon is the second-leading cause of lung cancer after smoking.
What can I do?
Studies by Health Canada have shown that radon concentrations vary a great deal across Canada, making it impossible to predict radon levels in any one home or building. The only way to know if you are being exposed to radon gas is to test for it. Testing for radon is easy and affordable.
To get you started Mississippi Mills Public Library offers digital radon detectors for loan at both branches. These offer a short term preliminary test to assess risk. Note: the results of this test offer an incomplete picture as radon levels can vary greatly over time, affected by multiple factors. The risk is highest during the winter months when windows are closed and heating systems can draw air up from the basements of buildings.
For the most accurate results Health Canada suggests that you use a long-term radon detector for a minimum of three months. These tests are available at local hardware stores and range from $30-$60.
The current Health Canada guideline for radon in indoor air for dwellings is 200 Becquerels per cubic metre, or less. If your preliminary test returns a greater concentration than 200, actions should be taken within two years and if greater than 600 within one year. Health Canada recommends that you hire a certified radon mitigation professional to determine the best and most cost-effective way to reduce the radon level in your home. The Canadian National Radon Proficiency Program maintains a list of certified professionals here.