Radon in The Home
Have you had your home tested for radon yet?
What is radon? (the basics)
Radon and your new home warranty
Long-term exposure to high concentrations of radon in homes have been responsible for thousands deaths across Canada. In fact, radon gas is the second leading cause of lung cancer and kills over 3000 Canadians every year. Living in a house with high levels of radon gas has been compared to smoking a pack of cigarettes every day!
Have you heard this myth? "There is no radon in the Greater Toronto Area" - don't fall for this, as it's not based on facts. See this recent Cross-Canada Survey of Radon Concentrations in Homes - Final Report (2012) and the Interactive Map that was created based on this survey. Radon gas is everywhere, but we want to ensure it is not present in high concentrations in homes. Radon levels can also vary greatly from house to house. Health Canada recommends that all Canadians test their homes and perform mitigation if over 200 Bq/m³ (based on a long-term test).
What testing methods are available for homeowners
Short-term Radon Test
In some cases, a quicker indication of radon concentration in a home may be required. For this reason, a short-term test can be performed (2-4 days). However, short-term measurements should be used with caution as it is not uncommon for radon levels to fluctuate by a factor of 2-3 over a 1-day period, and season to season variations can be even greater. When focusing on seasonal fluctuations only, the highest radon levels in homes are typically observed during winter months. As such, a single short-term measurement is not a sufficient basis for deciding to mitigate or not. For this reason, a "follow-up" long-term measurement is recommended.
Long-term Radon Test
A long-term measurement period will give a better indication of the annual average radon concentration. Long-term measurements are typically 3-12 months (91-365 days) in duration. Health Canada recommends that radon testing in homes or public buildings be a long-term measurement. Health Canada does not recommend a testing duration of less than 1 month. A minimum of 3 months is recommended, and 12 months is optimum.
Radon Screening (available as an ancillary/add-on service to our home inspection)
Radon screening is not meant to replace short or especially long term testing. It is performed to give one a quick "snapshot" of the average radon level in a very short time frame. Over a longer time frame such as 12 months, radon levels can fluctuate drastically in a building due to changes in temperature, pressure, humidity, ventilation, snowfall, ice, rain, earthquakes and even building insulation or foundation type. For this reason, radon screening can only be used to give one the potential risk level (or risk magnitude). The advantages of radon screening are speed (1 hour minimum is needed), low cost, and also privacy (no testing lab involvment). The main disadvantage being representative accuracy, since radon levels can fluctuate greatly day to day, and season to season over a long time frame. Sometimes by as much as 6 - 8 or more times.
Solex Group can perform radon screening during a home inspection to help asses the magnatude of risk for having high radon concentraions in a home. Solex Group uses RadonEye, the world's fastest radon detector. It's not only fast, but a very accurate continuous radon monitor which displays a first reading in 10 minutes and a reliable result within 1 hour.
Radon in your new home with Tarion warranty coverage
If you own a new home, your new home warranty in Ontario provides coverage against excessive radon concentrations for a full 7 years. If the radon level in your home is above Health Canada's guideline of 200 Bq/m³ you can make a warranty claim. Tarion will cover the costs required to mitigate a home up to a limit of $15,000 using a C-NRPP mitigation professional. A long term test of over 200 Bq/m³ performed by a C-NRPP measurement professional is required to prove a claim on your new home - watch the video "Radon and Your New Home Warranty" for more details.
In a perfect world, it would be great to know the radon levels in a home prior to purchase. In reality, this can be a challenge due to the limited time available in a real estate transaction and the risk of proper conditions not being maintained in the home (by occupants) for an accurate test result. We strongly encourage homeowners have their home tested for radon while proper conditions are maintained to ensure an accurate long-term test result. One option available is to perform radon screening. For a low fee, our inspector can assess the "magnitue of risk" for having high radon levels in a given home within 1-2 hrs. Solex Group uses devices that are reviewed and listed by the Canadian National Radon Proficiency Program (Canadian-NRPP or C-NRPP) and Vahn Balabanian has completed multiple Radon Measurement courses sucessfully. Therefore, you can be confident that your radon screening is being conducted properly and accurately using a professional radon monitoring device.