Causes of Radon and its Dangers to Lung Health

The effects of radon exposure are often not well known in Quebec. Yet, increased exposure to radon is the leading cause of death from lung cancer in non-smokers. According to recent data from the Quebec Lung Association, nearly 20% of families who test for radon have a radon concentration above the threshold recommended by Health Canada (Journal de Montréal 2021). Discover in this article the causes of radon and its dangers for lung health.

What is radon?

Radon is a radioactive gas that emanates from the radioactive decay of uranium, which in turn decays into radium and then decays into an inert gas called radon. Uranium and radium are two chemically solid metals trapped in the ground, while radon can move around and seep into enclosed spaces and into the air we breathe.   

The decay products of radon into radioactive particles can be breathed in and remain trapped in the lungs. They are the main cause of lung tissue damage.   

The radioactive particles released by radon are strong enough to sting plastic. The following image shows the plastic shards from an alpha trace detector. Printed in relief to show the damaged areas, imagine the damage these radioactive particles can have on lung tissue.   

Radon has no odor, is colorless and tasteless and therefore, imperceptible to the naked eye. The only way to determine if you have radon is to perform an alpha spectrometry test.  

The radon level acceptable according to Health Canada is 200 bq/m(Health Canada 2020). 

Why is radon dangerous for your health?  

In outdoor spaces, radon dissipates and is not harmful to health. Radon gas is dangerous when found in enclosed spaces such as homes, schools and closed buildings.

In northern countries, buildings are constructed in a more watertight manner allowing for better energy performance. Conversely, radon accumulates to much higher concentrations during the winter months. At this time, houses are In the Nordic countries, buildings are built in a more airtight way allowing a better energy performance. Conversely, radon accumulates at much higher concentrations during the winter months. During this period, houses are closed and radon has no escape route. Exposure to radon gas is a phenomenon increasingly accentuated by the new reality of telecommuting.   

Long-term exposure to a radon concentration above 200 Bq / m3 can cause serious illnesses such as lung cancer (Health Canada 2020)

What causes radon in our homes?

The pressure difference between indoor and outdoor air causes different gases, such as radon, to be sucked into the home. Radon can seep through any openings in contact with the ground such as possible cracks near the foundation of a house.   

November is the ideal month to start your radon measurement period since it corresponds to the heating period and gives a sample of the radon concentration when the doors are closed.  

Conceptualize radon

See in real images how radon dissipates (CAA Québec).  

How do you know if you have radon in your home?  

The only way to determine if you have radon in your home is to perform a radon test. Uranium is found throughout Canada and therefore the risk of radon in our homes is everywhere in Canada (Health Canada 2020).  

We offer two types of tests, both of which recommended by the PNCR-C. 

Buy a quick test

Buy a long term test

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