How do I know where to place the test?
The kit will come with proper instructions or the *certified professional that you have hired can provide you with direction on this. Choose a space in the lowest level of your home (basement or main floor) with a room where you spend 4 hours per day or more. Health Canada has provided guidance on the proper location with minimum distances from walls, windows and other objects. The directions included with the radon test should be clear to guide you on this.
Why do I test in the lowest level of my home, is this just a basement problem?
Radon enters buildings from the ground and it is a health risk when people are exposed to it for a duration of time. Therefore, radon test placement recommendations are based around these factors. Our recommendation is to test in the lowest level of your home (basement or main floor) that you spend at least 4 hours per day or more.
This doesn’t mean there isn’t radon in the other areas of your home, it just provides consistent guidance for most types of dwellings across Canada. Air (and radon gas) can move easily throughout the entire space of a dwelling and therefore elevated radon levels can be found in 1st and 2nd floors of the home. Typically, the levels are highest in the lowest levels.
Do I only need to test one room?
In a residential dwelling, the recommendations are to only test one room in the home and this will provide you with a good estimate of what the radon levels are in other areas of the home.
If you feel that there are unique features of your home that could influence this, you may want to hire a *certified professional to conduct your radon testing.
I live in a rented building, should I still test for radon?
All Canadians should test their residential space and understand what their radon exposure is. Primary importance goes to those who are living in dwellings with ground contact, and it is less of a risk the higher up in a building that you live, however the only way to know the radon level in your living space is to test. If you are living in a rented dwelling it is best for the occupant to be involved in the testing of the living space, but in order to make changes to reduce radon levels, you most likely will need permission from the building owner to make changes (also in the situation of a condo/strata units, you may need permission from the ownership group). It may be a good idea to start the discussions as part of your testing process.
I just moved into a house, is there anyway to know if the previous owner tested my home for radon so that I would know the levels?
There are no provincial databases in Canada that collect this information to provide to future homeowners. The only way to know this, would be if you could ask the previous owner, however, each occupant uses the home in a unique way which could influence indoor radon levels and so we encourage each homeowner to test their home once they move in. You can find a radon test kit here.
Are there any other homes in my community that have tested high?
There has been some survey’s done, and some mapping conducted to provide communities with a broad picture of what radon measurements look like for their residents.
In 2012, Health Canada released the results of their 2 year cross country survey, you can find the information mapped by postal code region here (www.c-nrpp.ca/radon-map), however there are many communities which do not have enough data to report (the map will not report if there is less than 10 data points in that region). If you are interested in helping to increase the amount of data points in your community, you may be interested in being a community liaison for our 100 Test Kit Challenge. Find out more about it here: https://takeactiononradon.ca/100-radon-test-kit-challenge/
There are other mapping resources that companies have done, you can find some of them below.
What is in a radon detector?
Long-term radon detectors are typically electret ion or alpha track devices.
Alpha track detectors contain a small piece of plastic which gets ‘etched’ or marked by the energy that is released from the radon decay process. This mark on the plastic is from the same impact that can damage your lung tissue, however on the plastic inside the detector it leaves a mark that can be counted by the lab.
Electret ion detectors measure radon through its loss of electrons in its decay process. The electret ion detector has a electret in the bottom which is positively electrically charged. It reduces in charge as the ions are released from the decay of the radon. Touching this electret will not harm you, but it will reduce the charge on the electret making the device no longer able to accurately measure radon.
Are the detectors are dangerous. is there anything inside that would be unsafe for kids and dogs?
Radon test kits are non-toxic and safe to use in homes with pets and children present. They should be left in place for the duration of the 91 days, but if a child picks it up and shakes it or a pet moves the detector, there should be nothing falling out of the detector and one-time or limited movement should not affect the result of the radon level. Typical long term devices are alpha track detectors and e-perm detector, these devices do not accumulate radiation