If you’ve been following the news, you have probably seen that in certain parts of North America (and really the world), there are extremely high levels of radon. We just read that in Edmonton, Canada the Lung Association is calling for homeowners to get their homes tested for radon. Since this blog is all about your overall health, we thought it was important to cover this important topic and suggest that everyone gets their home’s radon levels checked.
What is Radon?
According to the American Lung Association, radon is, “a naturally occurring gas that can have a big impact on indoor air quality and your health. You can’t see or smell it, and radon can build up inside homes, buildings and schools to dangerous levels. Exposure to high levels of radon can cause lung cancer.”
The fact that radon can’t be seen or smelled is what makes it particularly scary! Lung cancer that is affected/associated with radon account for approximately 21,000 deaths annually in the United States. (source)
What Are the Health Effects of Radon?
The American Lung Association also states that radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the United State (source)
Signs and symptoms of lung cancer from radon exposure can include:
- Persistent cough
- Chest pain
- Shortness of breath
- Coughing up blood
- Often contracting pneumonia and/or bronchitis
- Loss of appetite
- Weight loss
How Do You Test for Radon in Your Home?
Now this is the most important part of the article as every house should be tested for radon. You can either go for a short term radon test kit (approximately 2- 7 days) or a long term radon test (approximately 90 days). The only issue with a short term test is it can be less reliable as it’s for a shorter duration of time.
An Interesting Radon Case study from Edmonton, Alberta, Canada where radon levels in Edmonton homes have been found to be extremely high.
Experts are encouraging Edmonton homeowners to test for radon—a colourless and odourless gas that can cause lung cancer.
The president and CEO of The Lung Association, Leigh Allard, was shocked when she learned how high radon levels were at her Terwillegar home.
“I understood the risks to radon, but I didn’t realize how high the levels could be,” she told CTV News.
Allard’s house had more than 800 Becquerel of gas—four times the amount Health Canada deems safe.
“Panic and fear went through me,” Allard said, so she called a specialist.
“It’s a risk in every home,” Radon Gas Removal Systems Inc. Owner Bill Elms said. “What we’re finding in Edmonton, this house could be 800, the house next door is tested and it could be 50. It all depends on the fractures of the earth. The gas takes the course of least resistance.”
We have recommendations for home radon testing kits in Canada and the Unites States below:
If you are in Canada, we recommend the AccuStarCanada 1AT Alpha Track Long-Term Radon Test Kit for Canadians. Given the new information released encouraging Canadians to get their radon checked, we recommend purchasing soon in case kits become hard to find.
- Laboratory analysis included
- Canadians version in Bq/m³
- Health Canada and C-NRPP certified
- Rated #1 by a leading national consumer advocacy group.
Certified Radon Test
AccuStar provides accurate, easy to use radon testing products. Our products and laboratories are certified for Canada by the Canadian National Radon Proficiency Program (C-NRPP) and the National Radon Safety Board (NRSB) certified.
Health Canada recognizes the certification programs offered by the Canadian National Radon Proficiency Program (C-NRPP). Health Canada recommends using a long-term radon test during the winter season, with an exposure period of at least 3 months.
Great, inexpensive solution to determine the Rn gas levels at your dwelling place. The instructions are clear and simple to follow. Just open the sealed bag and place the tester in the lowest living level (the closest to the ground) of your home and leave it undisturbed for at least 90 days. It’s better to wait 6 months, for more accurate results (that’s what I am doing). Once the time is completed, you just mail the tester to the lab in the USA using the pre labelled envelope included and that’s it (test cost is included with the purchase price; postage is not). The results should be mailed back to you in 2-4 weeks, according to the instructions.
I’ll write an update in about 6 months time, once I get the results from the test.
Update: June 8, 2015: I did get the results from the test, although never got them by mail. I kind of forgot about the test after I submitted the device by mail, back in early March. It wasn’t until recently that I realised that I never heard from them, and then I found out that I forgot to write down the serial number printed on the top of the kit (duh!). One needs this number, and the postal code, in order to access the online report at their website. So I had to contact them, gave them my information and luckily they were able to track it and, with the serial number on hand, I downloaded the report. It’s all good.
Home Radon Testing Kits in the United States:
We are suggesting two different home radon testing kits for the United States. The Home Radon Detector is more expensive but a lot more thorough with instant results and the First Alert is more affordable but can take longer. The bottom line is to get your house tested for radon.
While significantly more expensive, the Home Radon Detector by Airthings gives you instant results and hopefully peace of mind.
Why Choose A Digital Radon Detector?
Meet Corentium Home by Airthings
A simple but powerful radon gas detector. It provides exactly what you need to stay on top of your radon levels – no more, no less.
- Quick results
- Easy to use
- Long battery life
- Long terms and short term average radon concentration
- Can be reset and start a new measurement as many times as you want
Everything You Need In A Radon Monitor
Radon levels change. We want to provide you with long term and short term averages with the most accurate readings every 24 hours. See everything you need right on the display.
The internal architecture of the Corentium Home radon detector comes from advanced technology normally reserved for commercial-type detectors. Particular attention has been paid to the quality and protection of the internal components, allowing the use of algorithms for signal analysis that are more sophisticated. The Corentium Home radon monitor quickly adapts to its environment and eliminates inaccuracies related to external factors, allowing it to obtain the best accuracy in its niche.
The Corentium Home radon gas detector is guaranteed for one year and in normal home use, it requires no annual calibrations throughout its useful life, estimated at over 10 years.
Enter your measurements and get a printable report-card sent to your inbox.
The Home Radon Detector by Airthings has excellent reviews, like this one:
-The radon mitigation fan that was installed in my house, which is working in the green (according to its vacuum indicator), does essentially nothing to reduce radon levels. On or off, same averages. *See update below, I don’t believe this to be completely accurate anymore. Just don’t RELY on your radon fan as your only means of protection.-The radon levels can swing WILDLY when air-moving appliances are in use. My basement averaged around 1 pCi/L for months, then shot up to over 5 when we began running the heater. I believe the heater was lowering the relative pressure in the basement (exhausting air via flue), causing far more gas to be sucked in through the cracks in the concrete slab and foundation walls. I’m currently in the process of remedying that, and this tool gives me the info I need to know if my changes (patching cracks, ventilation, etc) are making a difference. We’re seeing our radon drop to the lowest levels yet due to our improvements, thanks to the help of this tool letting us know what is working and what is not.
- The simple and safe way to test for radon
- Listed under the EPA Radon Gas Measurement Proficiency Program
- Includes test materials and lab fees, excluding NJ state fees
- Results are emailed within 72 hours of lab receipt
- Recommended for use only within the United States
Simple Test Takes Just Minutes
Testing for radon should only take a few minutes, and is safe and easy. Simply leave the radon sampler out in the lowest point in your home or office for two to four days. When finished, place the test in the provided envelope, apply postage, and mail it to the lab. Lab results will be emailed within 72 hours of receiving the samples.
Includes Next Steps and Recommendations
The radon testing kit includes information on what to do if you do have a radon problem and how to interpret the results of your test. More comprehensive testing might be required if results indicate the presence of radon. The kit also includes background information on the dangers of radon and how it might be entering your building.
As you can see, this is a quick and affordable option to test for randon and you mail away the radon machine for quick lab results.
The reviews are great too, here’s an example:
Radon Gas Options – How to deal with Radon (from the Lung Association)
If you have an existing home with elevated levels of radon, you can fix the problem by having a radon mitigation system installed. A radon mitigation system consists of a vent pipe, fan and the proper sealing of cracks. This system collects radon gas from underneath the foundation and vents it to the outside of your home. If you need to have a radon mitigation system installed, it is best to contact a certified radon mitigation professional to do the installation. A list of certified professionals can usually be obtained by contacting your state radon program.
If you are building a new home, ask your contractor to install radon-resistant features. These features include gravel and plastic sheeting below the foundation, along with proper sealing of cracks and the installation of a vent pipe. Once the radon-resistant features have been installed and the home is completely built, make sure to perform a radon test, as the levels could still be elevated. If the radon levels are still elevated, a radon fan should be added to the system to lower the radon level.
Detailed information about radon reduction in your home or building can be found in EPA’s Consumer’s Guide to Radon Reduction.
The American Lung Association is working with national partners and government agencies to build in ways to reduce radon in all homes. The National Radon Action Plan outlines strategies to protect millions more people from dangerous radon exposure.
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