The Truth About Radon

Like most issues of public health that have surfaced, there are claims that the risks are overblown, there are claims that the risks are undervalued, there are claims that the risks are negligible, and that the risks are enormous. From black mould to cigarettes, from sugar to gluten, there are always contradictory points of view. So it is with radon. We should look where the majority of genuine, peer reviewed scientific data leads.

Radon has been deemed a danger by the American Lung Association, the World Health Organization, and the Center for Disease Control, among others. These organizations don't publish unsubstantiated claims. These are solid statistics. There are approximately 160,000 deaths due to lung cancer annually and roughly 21,000 are attributed to radon. That's just over 13% and that is a significant number. Especially if you or someone you love falls into that number.

So what is radon and where does it come from? Radon is a radioactive gas that occurs naturally in the environment. It is produced by decaying uranium in soil, rock or water. Radon is invisible, odourless and tasteless. There are a number of harmless gases that are created naturally in the environment. They move freely through the earth and rock and find their way into buildings. Radon's danger is that it emits ionizing radiation. Out in the open air it exists in such low doses that it is harmless, but if it builds up in closed spaces the concentrations can reach dangerous levels.

As you can see Calgary is in the high potential zone
It is important to note that radon is present in low levels in almost all homes, only 6% of homes have dangerous levels. Radon doesn't mean a home isn't livable and mitigating radon does not pose the cost that other environmental contaminants can. Mitigation can be as simple as increased ventilation and cost as low as $500. 

As a home inspector I am in the enlightenment business. I want to enlighten my clientele to the exact condition of a property. I want to arm myself with every tool and as much knowledge as I can. Like asbestos and mould before it, radon is something I think home owners need to know about. 


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