Radon is an odourless, colourless, and radioactive gas that’s naturally present in our environment. Exposure to radon increases the risk of developing lung cancer. Level of risk depends on the amount of radon present, the length of time you are exposed, and whether or not you smoke - but the risk increases significantly if you are a smoker.
How am I exposed to radon?
Radon gas can enter homes through any opening that contacts the soil, such as cracks in foundation walls. In the outdoor environment, radon disperses in the air. However, in an enclosed space such as a basement, radon levels can increase.
How can I find out the level of radon in my home?
The only way to know if radon is present in your home is to test for it. The most accurate way to find out if there is a problem is to test your home using a long-term test kit for at least 3 months. The ideal time to test is during the fall and winter months by placing the detector in the lowest level of your home. Do-it-yourself kits can be purchased online, at a local hardware store (prices can range from $30.00 and up), or by contacting a certified radon professional.
Testing done, radon levels are high, now what do I do?
The Canadian indoor air quality guideline for radon is 200 becquerels per cubic metre (200 Bq/m3). If the radon levels in your home are found to exceed this level, there are ways to fix the problem depending on the characteristics of your home and the radon levels present. It is recommended that a certified radon professional be contacted to help reduce the radon level in your home.
Where should I start?
Checking to see if you have radon is easy, you can start by:
Information for homeowners:
If you smoke:
Since the combination of smoking and radon exposure dramatically increases the chance of developing lung cancer - quitting smoking is another important way to reduce your risk.
Thinking about quitting, but not sure how? Need some help but don't know where to go? Visit Smokers' Helpline or our Thinking About Quitting page that offers a list of supports and resources to help you successfully quit smoking.
Image provided by Health Canada, Radon – Another Reason to Quit, 2010