Saskatchewan has some of the highest levels in the country. Based on Health Canada's 2012 Cross-Canada Survey of Radon Concentrations in Homes report, 16 percent of homes in Saskatchewan measured above the radon guideline of 200 becquerels per cubic metre (200 Bq/m3). It is colourless, tasteless and odourless, and can result in serious adverse health effects – in fact, it is a leading cause of lung cancer.
Unacceptable levels of radon can inhibit efforts to sell, transfer or finance a property, and can expose a property owner to resident complaints and claims that a property is not habitable.
Testing For Radon
Testing for radon is recommended under the following circumstances:
- The building has never been tested.
- The building has not been tested in two years.
- The building was renovated since it was last tested.
- The building was tested on a higher level than you plan to occupy.
Testing can be passive (using charcoal canisters or alpha-track detectors) or active (using continuous radon monitors). Passive methods are readily available at hardware stores, while active methods are typically performed by testing professionals.
What Is A Typical Radon Level?
The average indoor radon level is 1.3 pCi/L, and the average outside radon level is .4 pCi/L. While the action level established by Health Canada is 5 pCi/L (200 Bq/m3) or more, the action level of the World Health Organization (WHO) is as low as 2.7 pCi/L (99.9 Bq/m3). Remediation can be considered between 2 and 5 pCi/L.
How To Remediate
The right remediation method depends on various factors, including building design, construction materials and other factors. Typical methods of remediation are sealing cracks and other openings in the foundation and the installation of a vent and fan system. If the building's water source has high levels of radon, a point-of-entry treatment device can be installed to reduce emissions.
Preventing Radon Intrusion
There are proven radon-resistant building techniques, which both mitigate radon levels and improve building energy efficiency and moisture control. These techniques include:
- Gas-permeable layers
- Plastic sheeting
- Sealing and caulking
- Vent pipes
- Junction boxes
These techniques have proven to be more cost effective than remediating elevated levels of radon in an existing building.