Radon -- The Details in English
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Listen to Montreal personalities who have tested their own homes.
Click on the image to the left to see the INTRODUCTION TO RADON video.
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What is radon, where does it come from and just how dangerous is it? How do tradespeople satisfy the building code while preparing the basis of efficient radon reduction where it might be determined to be necessary long after occupation? This video answers those questions while showing homeowners, designers, architects, home builders and tradespeople the overview of what needs to be done.
Throughout this series of videos we talk about the highest concentration of radon in a house that is considered safe, what is called the “action level”. Set by Health Canada, the action level is currently 200 Bq/m3 – as determined by average measurements over a 3 month test period. Years ago it was much higher before it was determined to still be a health hazard so it was placed at the 200 level as a safe level that could be obtained at a reasonable construction cost. Some people in Canada are advocating lowering it to 100 Bq/m3. Radon remediation professionals are trained to be up to date with both the health guidelines and the construction techniques required to maintain the measured levels below the current Canadian action level.
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I would like to respond to Mr Di Pasquo on his request of September 22. My personnel experience with the Airthings radon monitor is positive. The Airthings detector is reliable and accurate. In winter 2018, I did a 90 day radon test with an alpha track ‘test puck’ sold by AccuStar. This is the same detector used by Health Canada in their “Cross-Canada Survey of Radon” (March 2012 report). I also own an Airthings monitor which I tested against the AccuStar ‘test puck’. The devices were side by side for the duration of the test. The results given by the devices were withing 10% of each other. AccuStar: 74 Bq/m3 Airthings: 69 Bq/m3 (long term average). Also, I have a radon mitigation system in my house. Whenever the mitigation system is down (power failure for example), the Airthings monitor will shoot up the next day.
I work from home full time and so I spend at least 40hrs a week in my basement. Recently I have fallen sick (which I won't go into here) and so I have want to test my basement air for radon. I know there are 30-90 day test kits but I really can't wait that long to find out.
I recently bought a Digital Radon Detector from a company called AIRTHINGS. It says that it requires a min of 5 days to get a decent reading but the longer you run it, the more accurate it becomes. I moved my office into a temporary space upstairs while I test the air and just need to know if I can move back downstairs.
After about 12hrs it showed 160 Bq/M3 and it is slowly descending as time goes on ( at 18hrs it shows 148). I will run it in the main living room downstairs for 5 days and then move it into my office for another 5 days.
I am just wondering if you have ever tested / used this detector ? The user feedback for this model is all positive but that could be faked .
I have not personally tested the AIRTHINGS real time radon detector. Many instantaneous radon meters exist and there remains a great debate as to their usefulness because radon itself varies so much over time. One time readings by the best of meters can be a false yes or false no for the real situation in your home. Please note that your $250 model is not the same as the certified professional $1,890 model. Expect an indication of radon levels but expect inaccuracy.
What I would suggest is to invest in a 90 day radon test puck for about $40 and run the test from the beginning of the heating season for 90 days. Then compare that quite accurate "average" with what your real time meter is telling you. If you have taken action based on a bad meter, you can correct things. If the accurate puck and the real time meter agree -- bravo!
What are the best radon testers and where can I purchase one?
You want a three month tester, used ideally during a season where your house is closed up -- winter of air conditioned summer -- not spring or fall when all the windows are open.
Contact your local Lung Association, most of them sell good kits at good prices.
Jon...you recommend a 3 month test period, yet the Pro-Lab test kit that I purchased at Home Depot says that after only 96 hours I should sent the two vials to their test centre in Vaughan, Ontario.....what give??.....is it 3 months, or 96 hours?
There are many short test kits on the market, even instant electronic testers. The problem is that radon concentrations vary widely and rapidly from morning to night, from wind to no wind, from activity in the house -- that the health authorities suggest that the slow 3 month test actually gives an accurate test of the average exposure to radon. The other test could be way high because it was measuring a short period of high exposure, or give a false safe reading it is happened to only measure a moment where there was little radon. A three month average is much closer to what your lungs see.
Enjoy your show on CJAD.
I did the Radon test from November 2016 to March 2017. I live in St-Lazare, near the intersection of Ste-Angelique and Cite-des-Jeunes. The result of this test was 63 Bq/m3. We are relieved :)
Just thought I would pass this on for info.
I purchased a radon test kit from Home Depot in January 2016 and installed the test device over our open sump Feb. 2/2016.
Feb. 1/2017 I removed the tester and sent it to Pop-Lab in Toronto to obtain the results of a full year in the same position over the sump.
The results came in with a reading of 15 Bq./cu.m.; well below the threshold for remedial action.
Are there any statistics available concerning rating results from the area in Pointe-Claire just south of route 20 and just east of St. Johns Road, for a house built in 1956 with the tester mounted about 1 meter above the sump pit with the original earth covered bottom?
We don't have any statistical information that detailed. Health Canada continues to improve their regional information, but not down to that fine a point.
so if I have drain all around the inside for in case of water, will the radon pipe work?
If your inside perimeter drain is basically just a slot through the slab to the earth below, no – the radon will follow the path up. If your perimeter drain collects water from above and pipes it to a drain – maintaining a separation between the basement space and the soil below, then a draw fan under the slab should have no connection to the flow of this drain and the radon system will work. Sump pumps can be a special problem as they are usually open to the soil below and need to be air-sealed off between the pit and the basement air. So if your perimeter drain goes to a sump pump, how can we isolate things? The guys in Winnipeg solved that problem with the Dranger dry air trap drains which were first invented specifically for Radon control: http://joneakes.com/jons-fixit-database/1665-Stopping-flies-and-gasses-from-coming-out-of-my-basement-floor-drain-with-Dranjer
Thank you my son has to have some work done before he can sell his house. He bought it this way and didn't know this existed already in the home. Not sure how long it takes for someone that has been exposed to maybe have health issues?
Lung cancer from radon, like with cigarettes, can take decades to show up. If you smoke and have radon it is worse. That is why we are trying to have every house in Canada tested -- rather than finding out there has been a problem for a long time only when someone gets sick.
Enjoy your newsletter and show on CJAD.
I had the Radon test done from Jan to April 2016. I live in Dollard-des-Ormeaux in the Elm Park area. The result I got back was 30. Just thought I would pass this on for info.
I am so grateful for all the rich information you make available to all. Keep it coming! Thanks, Clara
As all your videos and educational material, it is well structured, easy to understand and focused on education.