The old saying “what you don’t know won’t hurt you” isn’t exactly true. Something tells us that we’ve pointed this out in a previous blog. And that’s because previous blogs have exposed some of the major health hazards that pollute our breathing air. The scary thing about many of them is that you don’t always know that they’re there. That certainly doesn’t mean that they won’t hurt you though. That’s for sure.
Take carbon monoxide, for example. It’s a colourless, odourless gas that is commonly referred to as “the silent killer”. As you can tell by its less-than-complimentary moniker, the worst ramification of carbon monoxide exposure is death. Sadly, it isn’t the only colourless, odourless gas that impacts our breathing air and our health. According to The Lung Association, radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer in Canada. It, too, can go undetected.
What is radon gas? Radon is a radioactive gas that cannot be detected by the senses. As Health Canada explains it, it “is formed naturally by the breakdown of uranium in soil, rock and water. As a gas, radon is slowly released from the ground, water, and some building materials that contain very small amounts of uranium, such as concrete, bricks, tiles and gyproc.” And it can present quite a problem in our homes.
How does radon get in our homes? Since radon comes out of soil and water, it has the ability to seep into the cracks of our houses. It generally enters the home through openings in unfinished floors, basements, crawlspaces, pipes, windows and sump pumps, says The Lung Association. The impact of radon in the home can be especially harmful if there is poor ventilation. This will trap the dangerous gas inside.
Health Canada provides a bit more of a definitive depiction of how our homes can become radon-filled: “A house can act like a vacuum for underground gases. The air pressure inside your house is usually lower than in the soil surrounding the foundation. This difference in pressure is caused by things like the use of air exchangers, exhaust fans and clothes dryers. When air is pushed out of the house, outside air is pulled back in to replace it – much of the replacement air comes from the ground surrounding the house and brings gases such as radon with it.”
How does radon affect our health? Well, we know that lung cancer is an unfortunate result of radon exposure. And while Health Canada assures us that there is no evidence of any other harmful health effects, they do note that symptoms can worsen if you are a smoker. Not surprisingly, a person’s risk of developing lung cancer after being exposed to radon significantly increases if they smoke.
How common is radon-induced lung cancer? “On average, 16% of lung cancer deaths are attributable to radon exposure in Canada,” reports Health Canada, “In 2006, an estimated 1,900 lung cancer deaths in Canada were due to radon exposure. Radon is the 2nd leading cause of lung cancer, after smoking.” Needless to say, for the best chances of clean breathing air, smoking must be avoided at all costs.
At DF Technical & Consulting Services Ltd., we are focused on making your breathing air the cleanest that it can be. Radon is one of the most worrisome issues when it comes to indoor air quality because of its “can’t see it, can’t smell it” nature. We offer Air Quality Services that exhaust all resources in locating air pollutants in the home. For more information, please don’t hesitate to call us at 1-855-668-3131 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.