Basic information on TESTING for radon can be found on our website on the test section. Here is some additional information.
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 (bedroom, office, family room). 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.
If I have tested my house, how can I have my data included in these maps?
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.
I tested for radon and my results were below the Government of Canada’s 200 Bq/m3 guideline, should I test again and if so, when?
If you make substantial changes to your home through renovations or additions or if you undertake energy efficiency changes that significantly seal up your home, you should test again. Otherwise, it is a good idea to test every five years.
Basic information on REDUCING radon levels can be found on our website on the PROTECT section. Here is some additional information.
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.
Can my HRV lower radon levels?
If an HRV is already installed in a house and you test for radon and have high levels, you may be able to make an impact by cleaning or having some maintenance done on the HRV to improve its effectiveness, however it is not the most effective method of mitigation. An HRV may dilute the radon by bringing in fresh air, but it still will allow the radon to enter the house. Plus, research that has been conducted shows that the reduction provided by an HRV is not enough to reduce high levels.
Does Geothermal heat in a home have an affect on radon levels?
Geothermal technology itself does not bring radon gas into a home because the loops used in geothermal are closed and so would not impact radon levels within a home.
The loops can be situated vertically or horizontally and could create a pathway which would allow radon to move through the ground and up. It’s not the pipes that would introduce radon, but the area around the pipes. The pipes need to enter the house some how and this access point needs to be sealed or it could be a potential entry point for radon.
What should people do if they have high levels of radon?
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
New Homes in our community already have a radon pipe in the basement. Do they still need to be tested for radon?
They still need to be tested for radon. New homes could have either a radon rough-in stub pipe or a radon rough-in extended pipe. Both of these pipes are intended to make reducing radon easier once the home occupant has tested for radon and determined if radon reduction is required.
Is there any financial support for homeowners who need to install a radon mitigation system?
Currently, we only know of two programs that provide some type of assistance however, we will update our website as we learn of others.
In Ontario, Tarion Warranty covers new homes for the first seven years after construction. If homes test above the Health Canada guideline then the warranty program covers the cost of the radon mitigation system if installed by a C-NRPP Professional.
In Manitoba, Manitoba Hydro has a loan program where homeowner’s can access their Energy Finance Plan to finance the cost of a radon mitigation system if the system is installed by an approved contactor who must be certified for radon mitigation through C-NRPP and meet their other contractor requirements.
Basic information on the HEALTH EFFECTS of radon can be found on our website on the LEARN section. Here is some additional information.
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).
Does radon gas exposure cause health effects other than lung cancer?
No. To date, medical researchers have not conclusively linked radon exposure to health concerns other than lung cancer.
Should I tell my doctor about my radon levels?
Yes, it is important that your doctor knows about exposures that can impact your lung health.
What is Take Action on Radon?
The Take Action on Radon is a national initiative funded by Health Canada to bring together stakeholders and raise awareness on radon across Canada.
The current advisory team is made up of the Canadian Association of Radon Scientists and Technologists (CARST), CAREX Canada, and the Canadian Cancer Society.
Basic information on our 100 RADON TEST KIT CHALLENGE project can be found on our website on the JOIN section. Here is some additional information.
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.
When I enter my start (or end) date, it tells me my postal code is invalid.
Try re-entering the postal code ensuring that there is a space in the middle. Eg. A1A 1A1
If it still gives you trouble, you could try using a different browser (ex. Google Chrome) or you could email and have us help you with entering the information. firstname.lastname@example.org
When I enter my start (or end) date, it tells me my test kit number has already been used.
You only need to click the submit button once. Sometimes if people double click it takes it as two submissions and provides this error, but the first submission worked. You can email us at email@example.com to ensure the submission worked and we can help you if it didn’t.
How long will it take to get results once the lab receives our batch of kits?
Once the lab has received the batch of kits from the community, they should provide the results within two weeks. They will provide the results to the email that was listed on the when the Start Test information was entered. If no email was provided. They will mail the results to the address listed as the contact address. The length of time to receive the results by mail will vary depending on the mail service but could be 4 week after the tests are received. If you don’t receive the results, please contact the Take Action on Radon group and we will investigate the reason for the delay.
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. We are continuing to take list of communities that would like to participate next year. We are currently running the program in communities where we have commitment by the municipality or health region. If you are interested, you can find more information on how to join here.
What type of information are you collecting from participants of the 100 Radon Test Kits Challenge and how are you using it?
When homeowners are provided with the radon test kits, we collect their contact information (name, email, and phone number), this information will be used to follow up with the participants to remind them to open and place the test, enter the information online and complete the online housing survey. We will also use it to contact them at the end of the test period to remind them that the collection dates and coming up and where they can drop off the detector.
Limited number of detectors are being provided free and so we want to make sure that each detector is being used. We will reach out to contact participants if they haven’t recorded their start time to ensure that they are planning on using the radon test. Also, start and end dates are important information for the lab to provide a participant with results. Having contact information connected with a serial number, will allow us to contact participants for information to assist the lab in providing test results.
Who collects the information?
This information will be collected by the individuals and volunteers who are handing out test kits, it will be given to CARST (the Canadian Association of Radon Scientists and Technologists) who is the Lead for the Take Action on Radon project.
Where is the information kept/stored?
This information will be stored in paper form in our CARST offices and on computer until we have completed the project for the purposes of ensuring we have all the contact information registered and results provided to participants. The information will be kept until all results have been distributed.
The personal information will be maintained by CARST for the purposes of ensuring the participants has the test results.
When will the records be destroyed?
The records will be kept and stored securely for at least 1 year after the completion of the project to ensure it is available if required to respond to any participant inquiries. After that, it will be destroyed as per our usual schedule of shredding of 2 years after the date of the project.