- Sample Recruitment Plan
- Ideas for Distribution and Collection
Resources for Promoting Radon Awareness:
- Poster for 100 Test Kit Project
- Participant Sign up form
What is the relationship between radon and cancer?
- Radon is a colourless, odourless, tasteless, radioactive gas found naturally in the environment. Radon is released into the air during the natural breakdown of uranium in rocks and soil. Radon enters homes and buildings through any place in contact with the soil, such as small cracks in the foundation, construction joints, gaps around service pipes, floor drains and sumps. Radon levels indoors can reach high concentrations, and long-term exposure to these radon levels greatly increases an individual’s lifetime risk of developing lung cancer.
- An individual’s risk depends both on the radon level and the length of exposure, as well as their smoking habits. Lung cancer can develop after many years of radon exposure. Health Canada estimates that about 16% of lung cancer deaths are related to exposure to radon in the home. Radon exposure is the LEADING CAUSE of lung cancer in non-smokers and it is estimated there are more than 3,200 radon-related lung cancer deaths in Canada each year.
How does radon cause lung cancer?
- As a radioactive gas, radon decays. As it decays, radon produces decay products, sometimes called “radon daughters” or “radon progeny”. Radon gas and radon progeny in the air can be breathed into the lungs where they break down further and emit “alpha particles“ inside the lungs.
- Alpha particles release small bursts of energy which are then absorbed by nearby lung tissue. This results in lung cell death or damage. When lung cells are damaged, they have the potential to result in cancer when they reproduce (mutation).
Why is Take Action on Radon conducting this testing survey across Canada?
- The goal of this survey is to gather more information about radon concentrations throughout the country to increase our knowledge and help us to better understand concentration levels.
How does radon enter a home?
- For most of the year, the air pressure inside your home is lower than the pressure in the soil surrounding your foundation. This difference in pressure can draw soil gases, including radon, into the house. Gas containing radon can enter your home at any opening where the house contacts the soil. These openings can be present even in well-built and new houses. Potential entry routes for radon in homes include small cracks in foundation or air openings around joints, fittings and pipes.
What factors influence high radon levels in a home?
- Because there are so many factors, it is not possible to predict the radon level in a home; the only way to know your radon level is to test. All homes have some level of radon. The levels can vary dramatically even between similar homes located next to each other.
The amount of radon in a home will depend on many factors including:
- Soil characteristics: Radon concentrations can vary enormously depending on the uranium content of the soil. The greater the source, the greater the potential that radon could enter a building. In addition, radon flows more easily through some soils than others; for example through sand versus clay.
- Construction type: The type of home and its design affect the amount of contact with the soil and the number and size of entry points for radon.
- Foundation condition: Foundations with numerous cracks and openings have more potential entry points for radon.
- Occupant lifestyle: The use of exhaust fans, windows and fireplaces, for example, influences the pressure difference between the house and the soil. This pressure difference can draw radon indoors and influences the rate of exchange of outdoor and indoor air.
- Weather: Variations in weather (e.g., temperature, wind, barometric pressure, precipitation, etc.) can affect the amount of radon that enters a home.
Is radon a concern outdoors?
- Radon is found naturally in the environment when uranium in soil and rock decays. When released from the ground into the outdoor air, radon is diluted and does not pose a significant health risk. However, in enclosed spaces such as homes, radon can sometimes accumulate to high levels and become a health concern.
What if someone lives outside of the specified communities wants a test kit? Where can they get one?
- Take Action on Radon (takeactiononradon.ca) provides more information on where to buy radon test kits
What should people do if they have high levels of radon?
- Home testing is only part of the solution. If high levels are found, homes must be mitigated. If your home is found to have high radon levels, your first step should be to consult a local Radon Mitigation Professional who has been certified by the Canadian National Radon Proficiency Program (C-NRPP). Mitigation can involve either limiting entry of radon into the home or expelling radon to the outdoors before it reaches lived-in spaces. The first approach uses passive measures, such as sealing cracks or laying a gravel base and a polyethylene barrier under the foundation. The second, more effective approach uses active measures, such as sub-slab depressurization which employs a fan to draw radon-containing air outdoors from under the home and provide a pathway out of the home. A C-NRPP Radon Mitigation Professional will guide you toward the most effective mitigation approach for your home.
- You can find a list of C-NRPP Certified Mitigation Professionals at C-NRPP Professionals
Can radon enter the home through other ways? How about through water?
- Radon can also be found in groundwater. When water containing radon is agitated during daily household use – showering, clothes washing or cooking, for example – the radon gas can be released into the air. In most cases, the risk of radon entering the home through water is much lower than the risk of it entering through the ground. A home that uses water from a well should first test the air for radon, and could then consider conducting a radon in water test if radon levels are found to be elevated.