"Two years ago I ordered radon detection kits from University of Calgary’s Evict Radon to test my Bonnie Doon home, built in 2002, and my brother’s Lendrum home, built around 1960. These long-term detectors were in place for four months, over the winter, when radon typically builds up houses. I thought my home would be fine and my brother’s might show moderate levels of radon. But in fact, my home showed high levels, and the Lendrum home very little.
Radon is uranium gas released through the soil. Odorless and tasteless, it dissipates in outdoor air but can build to dangerous levels in confined spaces. Air tight homes with basements and sump pumps – the types of homes we build in Canada – trap radon and circulate the gas through our heating systems during the winter months. High radon exposure over time negatively affects human health and can cause lung cancer.
It’s possible the soil in Bonnie Doon emits more radon than Lendrum, but it’s likely the higher radon level was the sump pump. Building code in 2002 did not require an airtight cover on a sump pump. The area around the sump gave off high radon readings. The highest readings however, were in the furnace room; air was being pulled from around the sump pump towards the furnace whenever the heating system booted up. And all that radon/furnace air was being distributed throughout the house! After installing a radon mitigation system, radon levels dropped immediately, from above Canadian maximum levels, (200 Bq/m3), to half of the World Health Organization maximum level, (100 Bq/m3).
While Evict Radon tests cost more, your results will be added to the project’s data base, and be used to map and compile a picture of which neighbourhoods and lands have higher readings, creating a broader understanding of Alberta’s overall radon situation. Test kits also can be purchased from hardware stores and radon monitors can be borrowed from the Edmonton Public Library but the wait list is long!"
Link to Evict Radon