What is Radon?

Radon is an invisible gas that comes from radium and goes into the air. When it is contained in a mine, or sometimes in the foundation of a building, it can be present in sufficient concentration to be dangerous to human health. 

Reitwan mâk reitwân pihchipuwin: 

namui michun nûkun û chichi wâpahtahk awen reitiyamihch e uhchipayihch ekw anite wîwîtimihch e ishi chîkûpayihch. Anite mâk e mûñihîshûliyâwânûhch e ihtakuhch mâk anite e asinîhkânûhch wâskâhîkan mistahî ihtkuhche chikachî kushtâtikuniyû awen wiyes chichi ihtûtâkut wiyûhch. 

ᕃᐃᐧᑕᓐᒫᒃᕃᐃᐧᑕᓐᐱᐦᒋᐳᐧᐃᓐ : 

ᓇᒧᐃᒥᒍᓐᓅᑯᓐᐆᒉᒌᐧᐋᐸᐦᑕᐦᒃᐊᐧᐁᓐᕃᐃᑎᔭᒥᐦᒡᐁᐅᐦᒋᐸᔨᐦᒡᐁᒄᐊᓂᑌᐧᐄᐧᐄᑎᒥᐦᒡᐁ ᐃᔑᒌᑰᐸᔨᐦᒡ᙮ᐊᓂᑌᒫᒃᐁᒨᓂᐦᐄᔔᓕᔮᐧᐋᓅᐦᒡᐁᐃᐦᑕᑯᐦᒡᒫᒃᐊᓂᑌᐁᐊᓯᓃᐦᑳᓅᐦᒡ ᐧᐋᔅᑳᐦᐄᑲᓐᒥᔅᑕᐦᐄᐃᐦᑕᑯᐦᒉᒋᑲᒌᑯᔥᑖᑎᑯᓂᔫᐊᐧᐁᓐᐧᐃᔦᔅᒉᒌᐃᐦᑑᑖᑯᑦᐧᐃᔫᐦ ᒡ᙮ 

  • Radioactive gas found naturally in the environment (degradation product of Uranium).
  • Colourless and odourless
  • Infiltrates (seeps) into buildings from the ground
  • Inert (doesn’t react chemically)

Where does radon come from?

  • Radon comes from the decay of uranium.
  • Some soils and rocks contain more uranium, so it means more radon coming from the ground. 

Radon levels vary according to:

  • type of soil (porosity)
  • type of construction (ex: house directly built on the ground-no crawl space)
  • season
  • weather (temperature, wind, etc.)

Radon is heavier than air. It comes in through the bedrock and tends to accumulate in the lower rooms and less well ventilated (ex: basement).

image: Health Canada

What are the impacts on health?

  • Impact associated with radon: risk of lung cancer
  • Concentration + time of exposure + tobacco increases risk
  • There is no medical test to know if you have been exposed
  • Radon is estimated to cause approx. 10% of lung cancers

In the general population:

  • Radon is the first cause of lung cancer in non-smokers
  • Radon is the second cause of lung cancer in smokers
  • Radon + tobacco = significantly increases risk of developing a lung cancer

image: Health Canada

What can we do to prevent these impacts?

  • Private home-owners can test their homes with a radon test kit. The results can be compared to the Health Canada guideline (200 Becquerels/m3).
  • Take action if necessary (vent the air from below the basement slab).

image: Health Canada