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Q&A: “Should I test for radon if the home already has a radon mitigation system?”

When a home already has an active radon mitigation system, is it even worth testing for radon? That's a great question. To answer that, allow me to share a quick story.

Read more here.

Does your home have high radon?

Does your home have high radon?

January is national radon awareness month. If you do nothing else, at least take a look at the map of radon risk zones above. If your home is in an area shaded red or orange, you may be especially at risk.

What is radon?
Radon is an invisible, odorless gas that can cause lung cancer. Although radon may be released from building materials, in most cases the source is natural radon found in the soils and rock on which your home is built. A house can act like a chimney: warm air rising inside causes a negative pressure in basements or at the slab level. This negative pressure can suck in gases, including radon.

How much radon is dangerous?

What buyers and sellers should know about radon: this deadly gas can threaten a home sale as well as your health

About one in 15 U.S. homes contain radon—a colorless, odorless radioactive gas that’s linked to 21,000 lung cancer deaths each year. And because radon lurks in nearly all soil, it can creep into holes or cracks in the walls or foundation of any home, risking your health if you’re a buyer and quashing the deal if you’re looking to sell.

Radon risks increase in winter, when tightly closed windows and today’s better-sealed homes help trap radon indoors and let levels rise high enough to be harmful. In recognition of National Radon Action Month, here are some ways to protect your health—and keep radon from coming between you and your new home.

If you’re buying a home

Port Hope Properties Tested for Radiation

About 450 Port Hope homeowners have had their soil sampled and properties tested for radon and gamma radiation in the first phase of the biggest radioactive cleanup in Canadian history.

Some 1.2 million cubic metres of contaminated soil — enough for 500 Olympic-size pools — will be entombed in a storage facility. A waste-water treatment plant at the site is close to completion, said Judy Herod of Port Hope Area Initiative, the agency in charge of the cleanup.

“We are still on schedule to complete (cleanup) by 2022,” she said.

The 450-plus homeowners whose properties were tested have yet to receive the results. Radon gas levels were measured inside their homes while bore hole drilling outside yielded soil samples.

More than 5,000 private and public properties will undergo such testing to identify places which need remediation, said Herod.

Health Unit Warns of Radon Gas

The Northwestern Health Unit is advising homeowners of potential radon gas in their homes. Public health inspector Rick Pascoe says a recent study shows the presences of radon gas in northwestern Ontario.

"There were some recent studies done in Ontario that indicated the stretch of the road between Dryden, Kenora and the Manitoba border seems to be a high spot for radon gas. We're ranked third in the province for lung cancer deaths due to radon gas," he said.

He notes radon gas comes from the breakdown of uranium, which creates an invisible, scentless and tasteless gas. Pascoe says they're hoping to get the message out to the public, as radon gas can often accumulate in homes during the winter.

"Now is the time when people tend to close their doors and not open their doors. Over the winter, radon gas can basically build up in a basement to a much higher level than in summer when doors and windows are open," he said.

All About Radon

Several colorless, odorless gases can injure your health. For example, carbon monoxide can kill you in minutes. Radon takes longer — usually decades — to kill you, and (fortunately) death is less certain.

People who have lived for many years in a house with elevated levels of radon gas have a higher than average chance of getting lung cancer. Because of this risk, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) advises homeowners to test the air in their homes for the presence of radon. If testing reveals radon at levels above 4 picocuries per liter, you should probably arrange for a contractor to install a radon mitigation system in your house.

How does radon get into a house?

Why Should I be Concerned about Radon?

What is radon gas? How do I find a professional tester?

Radon is a radioactive gas which comes from the natural breakdown of uranium in rocks and soil. You cannot see, smell or taste radon. It enters a home from ground soils around the foundation walls and through well water. At the present time radon is not regulated in community water supplies. Community water which is supplied from surface water (lakes) is at a low risk from radon. However, if the community water is supplied from wells it could contain radon. If you have concerns about radon in your community water, contact your utility company and ask if the water is tested for radon. The EPA estimates that there are about 21,000 annual radon-related lung cancer deaths every year. (www.epa.gov/radon/healthrisks)

Testing Your Home for Radon

Watch this news segment.

ROANOKE - "It's a concern," said Sherry Greene. "You want your children to be safe and you want to be safe."

That's why Greene has a radon ventilation system in her home.

Her family moved in about six years ago.

She says the system had already been installed.

"It's nice to know it's already in place. It's taking that out -- if it's here."

But, not everyone is taking the same precautions.

George Fardell, the owner of RADON Safe in Roanoke, says everyone should be concerned. "Sometimes it's too late. That's the problem. A lot of times, we get called to a home and a spouse has died of lung cancer, maybe never smoked."

Home Sale Moves Forward Despite Radon Mixup

GROTON -- A local property owner narrowly avoided a collapse of the pending sale of his home last Monday night when the Board of Health voted to approve a variance to the town's bylaws regarding a 30-day notification of changes in the status of radon in the well water.

Although homeowner John Spead was not present at the hearing, he was represented by his real-estate agent, who explained the situation.

All was going well with the sale of the home at 50 Hoyts Wharf Road, the agent said, until the failure of a water pump a couple weeks before a deal to sell the home was due to close. The pump, attached to the home's well, was swiftly repaired but could not be restarted for a week.

That alone was not enough to upset the pending sale. What did upset the sale was that a water aerator treatment system was also attached to the well to treat the water for radon.