Radon action guide for provinces and territories: Policies for specific locations

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Government buildings and operations

The federal government has conducted and reports on Radon Testing in Federal Buildings.

Examples of radon testing of government buildings at the provincial level:

CAREX Canada’s, 2017 Radon in schools: A summary of testing efforts across Canada documents radon testing across Canada. All public schools have been tested in Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick, Saskatchewan, Quebec, and Yukon. Some schools have been tested in British Columbia, Alberta, Ontario, and Northwest Territories.

Section 10 of this Appendix discusses initiatives for testing and mitigating social housing.

New homes

Building codes

Table 6: Building codes in Canada and radon system requirements
Building code If limited area of application Soil gas barrier only Radon rough-in with stub only Passive sub-slab depressurization
National Building Code of Canada, 2015 - - Explained here -
Provinces and territories that follow the National Building Code: Saskatchewan, Manitoba, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and Labrador, Northwest Territories, Yukon, Nunavut. PEI in major municipalities. - - Explained here -
British Columbia Building Code, 2018 Select municipalities predominantly east of Coast Mountains, see Table C-4

Locations in British Columbia Requiring Radon Rough-Ins

- - s. 9.13.4
National Building Code – 2019 Alberta Edition - - Explained here, to be augmented with testing and other design as per and  “good engineering practice’ -
Ontario Building Code, 2017 in Conjunction with Supplementary Standard SB-9, providing three options Areas of Ontario with known radon problem s. and Supplementary Standard SB-9, explained here(with Voluntary radon gas testing) Supplementary Standard SB-9, explained here 4(b)and Supplementary Standard SB-9, explained here
Quebec Construction Code - Quebec Construction Code A- to Sept 2020) Quebec Construction Code, (as of September 2020), Quebec Construction Code, (as of September 2020), if test results show need

A British Columbia study found the radon rough-in stub was generally insufficient.

This led to changes to the BC Code to require an outside venting pipe.

Current best practices in mitigation are outlined in the Canadian General Standard Board’s 2019 “Radon control options for new construction in low-rise residential buildings and should be referenced in building codes. The standard provides detailed technical prescriptions for radon mitigation strategies.

New home warranty

New Home Warranty providers will normally cover failures of builders to follow the Building Code, and this should include radon provisions.

Tarion treats high radon as a major structural defect, as discussed in Tarion’s Radon and Your New Home Warranty. Tarion explicitly warrants construction against levels of radon exceeding 200 Bq/m3 for seven years.

Radon will likely fall within other New Home Warranty systems given that:

Owner occupied homes

Real estate transactions

General information

Many Canadian organizations now offer general information to the public on radon and real estate.

Real estate licensee duties

Real estate agents are also typically members of professional regulatory organizations. As real estate licensees (or association members) they have professional duties around radon. This includes not only disclosing radon as a known latent defects to buyers, but generally being appraised of, and able to guide clients concerning, environmental conditions in homes. Real estate licensees should also help clients negotiate who will pay for any needed testing and mitigation.

Real estate councils and associations in Canada that have issued directions and materials to licensees that clarify duties, including:

The British Columbia Lung Association conducted its own law and policy research, including recommendations for real estate licensees (substantially matching those of the Real Estate Council of British Columbia) and a summary for policymakers.

Holdback clauses

Health Canada recommends a 3-month (long-term) radon test because radon levels fluctuate over time. Shorter tests may thus not accurately capture average radon levels. A three month waiting period can cause significant problems for real estate transactions and radon testing may not be possible during the subject removal period. A buyer may be uncomfortable moving forward with the purchase without knowing radon levels or wish to conduct the test themselves once they occupy the home. A holdback clause in the Contract for Purchase and Sale can allow a radon test to be completed after the property transfers and for a release of funds from seller to buyer to cover the cost of testing and if necessary, mitigation.

Holdback clauses are provided as a possible solution in guidance for licensees by:

Property disclosure statements

In some Canadian provinces, property disclosure statements include a line for radon.

As well, 37 states in the United States of America have laws requiring homeowners to disclose radon information to potential home buyers, see Environmental Law Institute’s Database of Radon Laws.

Property disclosure statements should offer sellers the ability to clearly indicate:

Written radon warnings delivered to buyers

Some US states require that sellers provide buyers with written warnings concerning radon. These can specifically notify the buyer that:

Table 7: US States with requirements for radon warning statements
State Requirement
Delaware 6 DE Code § 2572A (2017)
Illinois 420 ILCS 46/10
Iowa Iowa Code §§ 193E—14.1(543B)
Kansas Kansas Statutes Minn Stat. § 58-3078a
Minnesota Minn Stat. 144.496
Montana Mont. Code Ann.§ 75-3-606.
New Hampshire NH Rev Stat § 477:4-a (2015)
Rhode Island Rhode Island General Laws §§ § 5-20.8-2

In Minnesota, the law directs the Health Department to create a publication, Radon In Real Estate Transactions, which sellers must give to buyers. In Iowa, the law directs sellers to give buyers the Iowa Radon Home-Buyers and Sellers Fact Sheet.

Some states require that the buyer signs off on having received the information, including Delaware, Illinois, Iowa, and Montana (see Table 7 for links).

The United States Department of Housing and Urban Development also requires a Radon Gas and Mold Notice and Release Agreement in the sale of its properties. This puts buyers on notice that radon may be an issue.

Testing prior to sale

This is recommended in the United States’ EPAs Home Buyers’ and Sellers’ Guide to Radon.

Subsidies and financing and other aid for homeowners


Radon Reduction Sweepstakes: Take Action on Radon and the Canadian Association of Radon Scientists and Technologists offered a $1,000 prize (in 10 regions) towards the cost of mitigation.

Distribution of free or subsidized test kits

Free air quality inspections

The City of Fort Collins, Colorado has a Healthy Homes program, which offers free indoor air quality testing in resident’s homes, including for radon, as well as self-assessment tools.

Tax credits for mitigation

Saskatchewan’s renovation tax credit now includes radon mitigation. 

On-bill financing loans

Manitoba Hydro’s Energy Finance Plan provides an on-bill financing loan for upgrades to gas and electrical systems and includes radon mitigation. Provinces and territories can consider low or zero interest loans be attached to various.

Direct subsidies for mitigation

Rented homes

Existing landlord-tenant law in Canada

All Canadian provinces and territories have landlord tenant (or residential tenancy) legislation that provides rental accommodation should be habitable and in good repair and comply with the law, and right to remedies for tenants.

Table 8: Good repair provisions in provincial and territorial residential tenancy law
Province / territory Provision Reference
British Columbia Residential Tenancy Act S.B.C. 2002 s. 32(1)

Residential Tenancies Act, SA 2004, c R-17.1 (RTA)

Housing Regulation, Alta Reg 173/1999

Minimum Housing and Health Standards (MHHS)

RTA s. 16(c), HR. s. 3(1), 4 ,MHHS, s. 4
Saskatchewan Residential Tenancies Act, 2006, SS 2006, c R-22.0001 s. 49 (1)
Manitoba The Residential Tenancies Act, CCSM c R119 s. 59 (1)
Ontario Residential Tenancies Act, 2006, SO 2006, c 17 s. 20
Quebec Civil Code of Québec, CQLR c CCQ-1991 Ss 1910, 1913,
New Brunswick Residential Tenancies Act, SNB 1975, c R-10.2 s. 3
Prince Edward Island Rental of Residential Property Act, c. R-13.1 s. 6(1)
Nova Scotia Residential Tenancies Act, RSNS 1989, c. 401 s. 9
Newfoundland and Labrador Residential Tenancies Act SNL 2000 c. R-14.1 s. 8(1)
Nunavut Residential Tenancies Act, RSNWT (Nu) 1988, c R-5 s. 30(1)
Northwest Territories Residential Tenancies Act, RSNWT 1988, c R-5 s. 30 (1)
Yukon Residential Landlord and Tenant Act, SY 2012, c. 20 s. 33(1)

Administrative decision makers have ruled that these provisions are violated by radon levels over Health Canada Guidelines.

Current property manager duties

As real estate licensees, rental property managers must disclose known latent defects to prospective and current tenants, including radon levels over 200 Bq/m3. Guidance is provided in:

Potential reforms to residential tenancies law and regulations

Make explicit in law that radon is a contaminant or hazard

Tenants will be better protected and landlords more likely to act when there is a clear statement in law concerning the need to test and mitigate when the long-term average radon reading is at 200 Bq/m3 or over.

The United Kingdom’s Home (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act, 2018 gives renters the right to go to court to obtain an order for landlords to make repairs. The associated Guide for Tenants make clear that elevated radon negatively affects accommodation (and so render it unfit for human habitation). Radon has long been considered a hazard in rental housing in the UK, under the Housing Act, 2004, and associated Housing Health and Safety Rating System.

In Canada, provinces and territories have diverse systems for ensuring standards in rental housing, but in most cases standards—including for radon—could be specified by regulation rather than legislative chance.

These regulations could be expanded to provide details of what reasonable repair consist in, including ensuring radon levels are below 200 Bq/m3.

When these regulations are updated to include radon testing and mitigation, effort should be made to ensure landlords and tenants know they spell out minimum standards in law for the condition of repair of rental accommodation.

Specify that landlords need to test for radon and disclose results to tenants

Current law on material latent defects implies that landlords should inform tenants of known high radon levels. However, explicit direction in law can do more to ensure that landlords test and inform tenants. In turn, tenants will be informed as to the radon levels in their home. Landlords should be directed to follow Health Canada’s Guide for Radon Measurements in Residential Dwellings (Homes). Radon levels can change over time, and it should be emphasized that testing should be repeatedly periodically, such as every ten years.

U.S. states with rules on testing and disclosure rules for radon and rental accommodation include:

Direct landlords to provide a written notice to tenants concerning radon risks

This can be prepared by public health agencies and describes the risks of radon as well as renters’ rights. Ideally, standard form rental agreements will include formal recognition by the tenant that they have received this information (such as through initials). Examples include:

Direct landlords to use certified mitigation professionals

It is a good idea to require landlords to use independent, certified testing and mitigation professionals. If radon testers and mitigators are certified, they can also be directed to report test results and mitigation activity to the state. Absent such a law, a rental housing policy should require such reporting by landlords. This will also assist provinces in tracking compliance with the law and in furthering radon policy in general through improving databases and maps. Policies for specific locations: Owner occupied homes Table 7 lists U.S. states with mandatory certification requirements for mitigators and with requirements that mitigators release data to state agencies.

Ensure access to justice for renters

Renters can face many obstacles to redress against landlords. As part of ensuring renters have protections against high radon, provinces and territories can also assess whether the landlord-tenant system works to ensure access to justice. Key issues include: proper funding to the residential tenancy departments to hold investigations, support for housing advocates and tenants organizations, reliable and consistent enforcement, ensuring the availability of hearings for all types of people, independence and training of arbitrators, access to databases of written decisions, and remote access (such as through teleconferencing or computers) to tribunals for persons in rural and remote areas. Examples of analysis of access to justice issues for renters includes:

Public health acts

Public Health Acts generally provide that public health officials can obtain consent from occupants of private residences to enter premises, and then inspect, request information and documents and conduct tests on the premises. If an inspection reveals a health hazard or a contravention of the law, public health officials can issue orders, including having the building vacated, requiring work to be done, or removing health hazards.

Public Health Acts and policies could be updated to help reduce radon risks for renters in the following ways.

Clear statements that elevated radon is a health hazard or otherwise violates housing standards for public health reasons

As noted above, in some provinces rental housing standards are provided in regulations under Public Health Acts

These regulations can be updated to clarify that Canada’s Radon Guideline of 200 Bq/m3 is an important component of housing and maintenance standards. Alternatively, if housing standards (including those pertaining to radon) are provided elsewhere, such as in Residential Tenancies legislation, it should be made clear that public health officials can investigate and issue orders concerning housing standards.

Clear language can be provided to the effect that violations of housing standards are health hazards.

Language that requires property owners to carry out repairs and make units safe

Mandate to respond to renters’ complaints, inspect residential tenancies, and make orders against landlords

Manitoba’ Health Protection Unit’s Safe Housing Program responds to concerns from tenants and the general public. Public Health Inspectors inspect rental houses, apartments, hotels, and other types of accommodations to determine whether these places are satisfactory and free from health hazards. Inspectors enforce and apply the regulations to ensure that housing units provide safe and healthy living environments.

It is suggested that as part of this mandate there be specific budget and staff allocated to address radon in rental accommodation, and radon specific training for public health officials (such as through C-NRPP).

Working with municipalities to help renters

Many municipalities have standards of maintenance bylaws that specify some minimum environmental conditions within rented homes. Provinces can provide specific wording in municipal law allowing local governments to make standards of maintenance bylaws. For examples see:

In some cases there is a process for approval of standards of maintenance bylaws.

Provinces can provide specific language directing municipalities to receive complaints, make investigations and issue orders against landlords.

Municipalities can be encouraged to have standard of maintenance bylaws that protect renters, including from radon. 

Provinces and territories can encourage municipalities to enact and enforce standards of maintenance bylaws that include radon, and if necessary, take steps to ensure that municipalities have the power to enact and enforce such standards.

In some cases, provinces already provide explicit guidance to municipalities that include indoor conditions. British Columbia has a guidance document on Standards of Maintenance Bylaws and a Sample Standards of Maintenance Bylaw. In New Brunswick, the Residential Properties Maintenance and Occupancy Code Approval Regulation, NB Reg 84-86 specifies contents for standards of maintenance bylaws. 

Any model standards or explicit direction to municipalities on standard of maintenance bylaws can be updated to include radon.

Radon testing and mitigation initiatives in social housing

Test social housing as part of recognizing renter protection

Ensure performance guides for health and safety standards for social housing discuss radon

Canadian examples where radon is mentioned include:

Ideally these will mandate radon prevention measures in new construction and radon testing after energy retrofits

Tie financing of social housing to testing and mitigation

In the United States, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) requires radon testing as a condition for multifamily social housing developments receiving federal funds. This has also been adopted by Minnesota Housing

Work, study and care spaces


Many countries have general workplace laws that also cover schools and daycares such as Norway’s Radiation Act and Guide and the United Kingdom’s Ionising Radiation Regulations 2017 (IRR17), explained on the UK government Health and Safety Executive website for radon in the workplace.

There are a number of routes that occupational health and safety law and regulation can take to cover radon.

Federal guidance

Federal legislation can provide some guidance for provinces and territories in setting limits to radon and doses of ionizing radiation.

Direct regulation of radon exposure

Provinces and territories can directly specify allowable average radon levels in indoor workspaces.

Provinces and territories should consider updating radon specific workplace legislation to conform to the NORM Guidelines and to cover all workplaces.

Workplace restrictions on exposure to ionizing radiation

Some provinces directly regulate exposure to ionizing radiation in the workplace.

Governments and/or Workers Compensation Boards should be careful to provide guidance on allowable limits to exposure and how workers exposure to elevated radon concentrations in air translates into radiation dose. Workers who are not governed by the Nuclear Safety and Control Act should still receive similar protections from radiation. Here guidance can be found in the NORM Guidelines  and the International Commission on Radiological Protection’s Summary of Recommendations on Radon.

General duty clauses

All provinces and territories occupational health and safety regulation contains catch all clauses to the effect that employers should ensure workers are healthy and safe, and that workplaces and workplace practices are designed to prevent or reduce the risk of occupational injury.

All provinces and territories can consider following the lead of Ontario’s Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development. It has issued policy guidance on radon which states that the general duty clause is to be interpreted as applying the NORM Guidelines to all workplaces.

Identify workplaces prone to elevated radon

The European Union’s BSS Directive Annex XVIII, s. 3 directs member states to identify workplaces that need to be measured. While all workplaces should be tested, it can also be helpful to identify workplaces that are particularly susceptible to high radon.

List radon induced lung cancer as an occupational disease

Worker’s compensation legislation throughout Canada features lists of workplace diseases that are covered, and in some cases, radon induced lung cancer is explicitly listed. This makes it easier for workers to receive compensation, as it may mean the burden of proving the cause of the illness is reduced.

Provinces which list diseases caused by ionizing radiation:

Provinces which list radon and lung cancer:

By explicitly listing radon, provinces can both aid workers and send a message to employers to take radon seriously. Provision should be made for the chronic nature of the risk that radon poses—compensation systems should recognize that there is often a long-term gap between exposure and onset of disease.


U.S. states with mandatory school testing:

Table 9: US states with mandatory school testing
State Regulation
Colorado 6 Colo. Code Regs. 1010-6:8.1(E2)
Connecticut Conn. Gen. Stat. Ann. § 19a-37b. Conn. Gen. Stat. Ann. § 10-220 (d). Conn. Gen. Stat. Ann. § 10-291(b)(1)
Florida Fla. Stat. Ann. § 404.056 (4)
Illinois ll. Ann. Stat. Ch. 105 § 10-20.48
New Jersey N.J. Stat. Ann. § 18A:20-40
Rhode Island R.I. Gen. Laws §§ 23-61-4R.I. Gen. Laws. § 1.04-3; 216 R.I. Admin. Code 50-15-2.3.1 A(13) and 50-15-2.5
Tennessee Tenn. Code Ann. § 49-2-121
Virginia VA. Code Ann. § 22.1-138
West Virginia W. VA. Code §18-9E-3 (d)


Mandatory childcare testing

Table 10: Mandatory testing in childcares in US states
State Regulation
Connecticut Conn. Gen. Stat. Ann. § 19a-79-7a (17)
Colorado  6 Colo. Code Regs. 1010-7:7.14.2
Florida Fla. Stat. Ann. § 404.056 (4)
\Illinois  Ill. Ann. Stat. Ch. 225 § 10/5.8
Idaho Idaho Admin. Code
Iowa Iowa Admin. Code 441-109.11 (7)
Maryland Md. Regs.
Michigan Mich. Admin. Code r. 400.1934
New Jersey, N.J. Stat. Ann. § 30:5B-5.2
New York 18 N.Y. Code Rules & Regs. 416.2(a)(13), and 418-1.2(a)(6) plus New York State Office and Children Family Services radon guidance
Rhode Island 216I. Admin. Code 50-15-2.3.1 A(13) and 50-15-2.5
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