Radon Services

What is Radon?

Radon gas is a radioactive gas produced by the decay of uranium found in soil, rock or water. It is invisible, odourless, and tasteless. Uranium is naturally occurring, as is the production of radon. When encountered in the outdoor air, radon gas is considered to be effectively harmless. Concern around radon regards its accumulation in indoor environments.

In the following sections, we will provide an overview of the radon information most essential to your knowledge: its impact on your health, its occurrence in buildings, guidelines around its measurement, methods geared towards its mitigation, its coverage under Tarion, and the importance of working with certified professionals.

Health Impact

In the outdoor air, radon is diluted to a very low concentration. When confined to an enclosed or poorly ventilated space it can accumulate to high levels due to lack of dilution, contaminating the air you breathe. It is in environments such as these, with radon gas found in high concentration, where your health faces risks.

As radon decays, it produces new radioactive elements known as radon progeny or radon decay products (RDP). These decay products are solids, and stick to surfaces like airborne dust particles. Upon inhalation, these contaminated particles can stick to and irradiate your lung tissue. Because lung tissue is extremely exposed and sensitive ,irradiation will kill or damage the cells in this tissue. Cell damage by irradiation can lead to cancerous mutation. Buildings with a greater concentration of radon gas will expose occupants to a greater amount of these dangerous decay products, heightening the risk of radon-related lung cancer.

Radon is ranked as a Group A Carcinogen by the International Agency for Research on Cancer, and is the second leading cause of lung cancer after smoking (first amongst non-smokers). Chances of developing lung cancer from radon vary depending on the concentration and duration of your exposure. A non-smoker exposed to high levels of radon over a lifetime has an estimated one in twenty chance of developing lung cancer. This estimate increases to one in three for a smoker exposed to high levels of radon gas over a lifetime.

Radon in Buildings

As an inert gas, radon can move freely through the soil and into the atmosphere or buildings without reacting or combining with the elements in the ground. If a building is built over bedrock or soil that contains uranium, radon gas can be released into the building through cracks in foundation walls and floors, or gaps around pipes and cables. Generally, basements and crawl spaces (or the occupied dwelling spaces lowest to the ground) are most prone to high radon levels, due to their proximity to the source and tendency of poor ventilation. Radon gas cannot be filtered – it can only be removed from the area by means of ventilation.

Radon Levels

Radon concentration is most often measured in Becquerel per cubic meter (Bq/m3). The Becquerel is used to measure radioactivity, with 1 Bq/m3 being the radiation caused by 1 disintegration/second of radon in 1 cubic meter. As such, the Bq/m3 measurement indicates the radioactive decay per second within a given area.

Health Canada recommends that people with long-term exposure to radon levels at or above 200 Bq/m3pursue a Radon Mitigation System. While the average Canadian home experiences radon levels of 42 Bq/m3, it is estimated that 7% of Canadian homes experience radon levels at or above 200 Bq/m3.

To be clear, any level of radon in your home presents risk. In fact, the United States Environmental Protection Agency recommends levels of 148 Bq/m3, and the World Health Organization puts forth an even lower guideline of 100 Bq/m3.

Radon Testing and Measurement

Radon awareness advocates cannot stress enough the necessity for radon testing in all homes. Public initiatives mandating such testing are on the rise. Concurrently, a variety of testing products and services has become available. It is important to be clear around the distinction between available testing procedures.

First, understand that short-term and long-term tests do not serve the same purpose. Short-term tests should only be used to provide an initial cursory estimate of radon levels. Long-term testing, which entails measuring radon levels over a minimum 3-month period, is always recommended. This recommendation is founded upon the understanding that radon levels are prone to seasonal, daily, and even hourly fluctuation, and that testing accuracy improves with duration. Six-month to year-long measurement spans are considered ideal, as they will represent exposure levels during everyday conditions across various seasonal changes.

Second, understand that DIY testing kits will not support you as effectively as hiring a radon professional to conduct testing on your behalf. There are multiple protocols to be followed in accurately conducting a test, and significant nuance to be grasped in the interpretation of test results. Certified professionals are trained specifically to conduct and interpret tests with reliable precision.

If you are looking to conduct testing, Caliber can perform measurement or connect you with other radon measurement professionals certified under the Canadian National Radon Proficiency Program (C-NRPP).

Radon Mitigation

“Radon mitigation” is the term applied to any process that works toward reducing radon concentrations in a given area. When radon levels are measured to be at or above 200 Bq/m3, mitigation is strongly recommended. This being said, areas with radon levels below 200 Bq/m3can still benefit from mitigation. Both the World Health Organization and United States EPA recommend lower radon levels than the Canadian standard of 200 Bq/m3. Lower radon levels mean less exposure to radon gas, and a reduction of RDP-related health risks. Many Canadians are seeing the value in reduction of radon levels and installing mitigation systems to minimize this risk.

As a licenced mitigator, Caliber Environmental works to reduce radon levels to the lowest Bq/m3 as reasonably possible. Our mission is to provide mitigation services that consistently reduce radon levels to meet or fall below 45 Bq/m3, while still remaining cost-effective. This target is derived from the average annual indoor radon concentration in Canadian homes. Licensed installations of mitigation systems can lead to a great change in a building’s air quality, and our firm is confident in its ability to actualize this change.

Mitigation Systems

Currently, two different systems exist within radon mitigation practices: Active and Passive Soil Depressurization.

Active Soil Depressurization (ASD) is the radon mitigation method of choice, especially with existing residential, commercial, and institutional buildings. As the name indicates, ASD systems facilitate an active depressurization of all soil vapour beneath the foundation of a building. These systems work by creating a negative air pressure underneath the foundation floor of a building, and moving all vapours from beneath the ground into the outdoors by means of a powered a fan. Once radon gas enters the above-ground atmosphere, outdoor air dilutes its concentration.

Passive Soil Depressurization (PSD), also referred to as Radon Resistant New Construction, is a method primarily used to proactively protect against radon in the construction of new buildings. PSD systems do not make use of a radon fan. Instead, they rely on a natural vacuum created by pressure differentials between indoor and outdoor air.

Because they do not actively mitigate radon, PSD systems do not serve the same function as ASD systems. They are temporary solutions used in new construction while radon measurement occurs, and are rarely used to mitigate radon in existing buildings. New construction with a PSD system must still have its radon levels measured. While we absolutely support proactive defence against radon, we emphasize that PSD should by no means be considered an alternative to ASD mitigation.

For more detailed information catering to your personal mitigation needs, please feel free to contact us.

Why use a Radon Measurement/Mitigation Certified Professional?

When enlisting the services of radon measurement and mitigation, it is imperative that you work with professionals certified under The Canadian-National Radon Proficiency Program (C-NRPP).The C-NRPP is a certification program designed to establish and uphold guidelines for professionals in radon services. Certified members are assigned a C-NRPP identification number – if you are ever unsure about someone’s qualification, do not hesitate to ask for this number.

Uncertified contractors that take a “do-it-yourself” approach to system installation can often increase the volume of radon gas entering your home, putting all occupants at further risk of long-term, high-concentration exposure to RDP’s.This liability and danger is not worth saving money in the short term.

C-NRPPP-certified professionals have been trained to a recognised standard of practice, are held accountable for working to this standard, and must maintain their continuing education in the field. At Caliber Environmental, we take pride in our C-NRPPP membership, and are committed to promoting these standards throughout our radon services.

Tarion Warranty Coverage

When radon levels in a home are found to be above 200 Bq/m3, Tarion warranty will provide coverage for repair and remediation costs, up to $15,000 per home. Claims can be filed for homes covered under 1st year, 2nd year, and years 3-7 warranties.

In order to have your radon claim accepted under Tarion warranty guidelines, you must provide long-term test results from a C-NRPP professional, indicating radon levels above 200 Bq/m3.

Also important to note is that Tarion will not cover unlicensed installs.

Our Service Region

Caliber Environmental is a mobile and flexible company, with a broad service region, and a geographically diverse portfolio. We are open to undertaking projects across the province of Ontario, and welcome you to contact us.

Looking Forward with Radon

On a global scale, managing radon exposure is a rising issue with great room for improvement. Canada is in the midst of increasing public awareness, and solidifying its own legislation around radon regulation. In the meantime, there is a need for more cohesive industry standards, as well as greater consistency in service and expertise.

Caliber Environmental is dedicated to taking a leadership role in this movement. A proud member of The Canadian Association of Radon Scientists and Technologists (CARST), we are proactively engaged in synchronizing our growth with advances in radon technology and methodology. We are invested in our own continuous education, and in sharing this knowledge with the public, our clients, and our colleagues. Collectively, our firm seeks to uphold an accountable practice that exceeds existing guidelines, and inturnsets the bar for industry performance.

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