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Radon is the #1 cause of lung cancer in non-smokers. Exposure to high levels of radon in indoor air results in an increased risk of developing lung cancer. The risk of cancer depends on the level of radon and how long a person is exposed to those levels.
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What is radon
Radon is a radioactive gas that comes from the breakdown of uranium in soil and rock. It is invisible, odourless and tasteless. When radon is released from the ground into the outdoor air, it is diluted and is not a concern. However, in enclosed spaces, like homes, it can accumulate to high levels and become a risk to the health of you and your family.
Radon gas breaks down to form radioactive elements that can be inhaled into the lungs. In the lungs, radon continues to breakdown, creating radioactive particles that release small bursts of energy. This energy is absorbed by nearby lung tissue, damaging the lung cells. When cells are damaged, they have the potential to result in cancer when they reproduce.
Exposure to radon and tobacco use together can significantly increase your risk of lung cancer.
How radon gets into your home
The air pressure inside your home is usually lower than in the soil surrounding the foundation. This difference in pressure draws air and other gases, including radon, from the soil into your home.
Radon can enter a home any place it finds an opening where the house contacts the ground: cracks in foundation floor and walls, construction joints, gaps around service pipes, support posts, window casements, floor drains, sumps or cavities inside walls.
Radon levels in Canada
Uranium is a common element found everywhere in the earth's crust, as a result radon gas can be found in almost all homes in Canada. Concentrations differ greatly across the country, but are usually higher in areas where there is a higher amount of uranium in underlying rock and soil.
Radon concentration levels will vary from one house to another, even if they are similar designs and next door to each other. The only way to be sure of the radon level in your home is to test.
- Contact us
- Mike Holmes on Radon (video)
- Canadian Cancer Society - Radon
- Radon: Is it in Your Home? (video)
- Plan to be here - Take Action on Radon (video)
- Canadian Lung Association - Pollution and Air Quality - Indoor Air - Radon
- World Health Organization (WHO) handbook on indoor radon - a public health perspective (PDF)
- Canadian Partnership for Children's Health and Environment (CPCHE) - Home safety for your kid's sake campaign
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