Radon Gas exists everywhere as a naturally occurring decay product of uranium. Radon Gas is measured by collecting particles given off from the decay process of the gas over its half life of 3.8 days. This is because while scientifically we know there is Radon Gas there is no way to actually test it directly and this is why a process was developed to test for its decay products.
Radon Gas concentrations in our soil and in our homes can vary greatly between homes and buildings. Just because the home next to someone tested low or high for Radon gas levels does not mean that home going to test the same.
Controlled testing across Canada showed concentrations in homes at below the 200BEQ/m3 benchmark but the one right next to it was at over 600BEQ/m3. This was found to be the case all across the country.
Radon is odourless, tasteless and colourless. Radon is not a fast-acting cancer hazard because it takes on average 7 years to possibly develop cancer if it is going to develop in a person. Smokers living in homes with above minimum levels of radon gas in their homes have shown a much higher risk of developing lung cancer. This is one of the main reasons Health Canada is recommending every building should be tested.
Health Canada guidelines for radon gas concentrations in residential properties and most general commercial properties consider 200BEQ/m3 (bequarls per meter cubed) as a relative safe level. This safe level does not mean if a home, school, daycare or business has a level this low no one residing there or working there will not develop cancer.
Radon level guidelines are:
1. Below 200BEQ/m3 installing a mitigation system is up to the person or company getting the test done.
2. Between 200 to 600BEQ/m3 a mitigation system is recommended to be installed within 2 years.
3. Above 600BEQ/m3 a mitigation system is recommended to be installed within one year.
Test kits are available at some local hardware stores as well as directly from Health Canada. The difference between one of those kits and a professional coming to the home or business to set up the test is that a professional can go over everything and properly determine the placement of test units. There have been instances where locally available kit packaging has been damaged and since radon gas is everywhere it penetrates the container and gives a false reading. The professional measurement technician will test the sample they are using at the time of the installation and keep a record of that measurement giving an accurate starting point and ending point for the measurement.
There are short and long-term test units. The short-term test only takes a few days. It is not a very accurate test and is only a rough idea at best giving a potential false sense of well being.
Long-term testing is always recommended as the best course to follow. It takes between 6 to 9 months and a professional measurement tech will usually set up a short-term test to get a snapshot of what to expect.
Schools, daycares, businesses have a much different set of guidelines for sampling and are to variable to discuss here.