Radon is a colourless, odorless, tasteless, naturally occurring, radioactive gas that is formed from the decay of radium.
Radon gas from natural sources can accumulate in buildings, especially in confined areas such as basements. BCCDC performed two studies in the interior of BC to measure radon in homes and radon in schools.
How to test for radiation and methods for corrective action for elevated radon levels. This document contains a list of some businesses known to provide radon testing services.
Radon is a naturally occurring radioactive gas that is produced in the ground by the decay of the natural uranium found in soil and rocks. Radon is found in outdoor air in low concentrations. In indoor environments, radon levels can be much higher. Long term exposure to high concentrations of radon increases a person's risk of developing lung cancer.
Radon can be significantly reduced in existing homes using simple procedures and protocols. Modified building techniques can be applied to new homes at the construction stage to prevent radon entry. None of these techniques need be expensive. Home radon testing is offered by a number of companies.
Radon reduction techniques can involve the use of sealant products to close off cracks and gaps in basement floors and walls. Capping drains in the house often proves to be effective. Costs for such work amount to a few hundred dollars for material and labour. Where high radon levels do not respond to the mitigation techniques listed above, the installation of a sub-slab ventilation system that pumps the gas out from beneath the house before it gets in, has proven to be most effective.
For new homes, non-permeable membranes such as plastic sheets can be placed over the sand or gravel base before the concrete foundation is poured. The sheets will prevent radon gas getting in to the home. Attention should be paid to sealing the plastic to the footings and around service entrances. Such construction techniques reduce the likelihood of radon entering the home.
The following radon maps for homes in BC were created from a survey performed in 2007 for radon in BC cities, giving an indication of the radon prone areas within the province. Click on the map to view larger and print.
Click image to enlarge
A printable version of BCCDC's Radon Testing in Schools Protocol is available.