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Preventing Radon From Entering Our Homes

Radon material on the periodic table. Part of a series.At DF Technical & Consulting Services Ltd., we talk a lot about improving indoor air quality. Naturally, there are many things that we can all do to make our homes much safer places to live. Vacuuming, dusting, opening the windows, removing carpets and avoiding VOCs are just a few of the everyday techniques that we can all adopt to make the air in our homes safer for us to breathe. And yet, completely preventing our air from being contaminated isn’t always possible.

Enter radon – the radioactive gas that is undetectable by sight or smell. It’s one of those air pollutants that is not controlled by the action taken by humans. Instead, it’s actually caused by nature. As Health Canada explains, radon is created by the breaking down of uranium in the soil and rock that surrounds our homes. When released into the outdoor air, it is not considered a health risk.

So what makes radon dangerous? When concealed within enclosed spaces, radon has the ability to accumulate to high levels. So, for example, when radon seeps into our homes and becomes trapped inside, it is no longer diluted. When we breathe radon into our lungs, the gas – which is known to decay and form radioactive elements – creates radioactive particles that release small bursts of energy, says Health Canada.

As further explained on their website, “this energy is absorbed by nearby lung tissue, damaging the lung cells. When cells are damaged, they have the potential to result in cancer when they reproduce. Exposure to high levels of radon in indoor air results in an increased risk of developing lung cancer. The risk of cancer depends on the level of radon and how long a person is exposed to those levels.”

How does radon enter our homes? Because radon is a gas, it can find many ways to seep into your home. The gas can enter your home through any openings that exist in places where the house is in contact with soil. As Health Canada points out, they can include “cracks in foundation walls and in floor slabs, construction joints, gaps around service pipes, support posts, window casements, floor drains, sumps or cavities inside walls.”

How can radon be prevented from entering the home? Well, one of the first and most logical steps would be to attempt to seal any cracks or openings that would allow radon to seep inside. However, on About.com, Janet Wickell admits that “sealing alone doesn’t usually lower radon levels, but it can limit the flow of radon into a home and reduce the loss of air that’s been conditioned, so it helps make other types of reduction techniques more effective.”

What other prevention methods are there? Soil suction draws radon up from beneath the house and vents it away from the house through pipes, explains Wickell. As well, house pressurization is a method that makes use of a fan that creates pressure differences that help to prevent radon from coming inside the home. Wickell also notes that a heat recovery ventilator or HRV can be used to increase ventilation in the home.

At DF Technical & Consulting Services Ltd., we would also highly recommend our Air Quality Services. Designed to pinpoint all sources of air pollution in the home, our services are known to seek radon, among many other contaminants, out. If you have any concerns about the possibility of radon having entered your home, please don’t hesitate to call us at 1-855-668-3131 or email info@dftechnical.ca.

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