As a Winnipeg realtor, I’m committed to helping my clients make informed decisions about their homes. One issue that often goes overlooked in Manitoba is radon. I recently had a radon test done in my own home and was shocked to find high levels, despite living in a newer house with an HRV, Dricore basement floor, and excellent ventilation. It’s essential for homeowners in our area to be aware of the risks associated with radon and take appropriate action.
What is Radon?
Radon is a radioactive gas that is naturally occurring and comes from the breakdown of uranium in soil, rock, and water. It is colorless, odorless, and tasteless, making it difficult to detect without proper testing. Radon can seep into homes through cracks in the foundation, gaps around pipes, and other openings. Long-term exposure to high levels of radon can cause lung cancer, making it the second leading cause of lung cancer after smoking.
Why is Radon a Concern in Manitoba?
Manitoba has some of the highest radon levels in Canada due to the region’s geology. The soil and rock formations in our area contain higher concentrations of uranium, which can lead to increased radon levels in homes. Health Canada recommends that radon levels in indoor air should not exceed 200 Bq/m³ (becquerels per cubic meter).
Testing for radon is the only way to know if your home has high levels of this harmful gas. There are two primary methods for radon testing: short-term tests (lasting 2-7 days) and long-term tests (lasting 3 months or more). Long-term tests are more accurate in determining your home’s average radon level throughout the year.
Radon test kits are available at many hardware stores or online. Simply follow the instructions provided with the kit and send the completed test to a certified laboratory for analysis. Alternatively, you can hire a certified radon professional to perform the test for you.
Radon Mitigation Options
If your home’s radon levels are above Health Canada’s recommended limit, you should take steps to reduce them. A certified radon professional can help you determine the best mitigation method for your home. Some common techniques include:
1. Sealing Cracks and Openings
Sealing cracks in the foundation, gaps around pipes, and other openings can help reduce the amount of radon entering your home. This method can be effective in some cases, but it is typically not enough on its own to bring radon levels down to a safe range.
2. Improving Ventilation
Increasing ventilation in your home can help reduce radon levels by diluting the indoor air with fresh outdoor air. This can be achieved by opening windows and doors, using exhaust fans, or installing a ventilation system specifically designed to lower radon levels, such as a heat recovery ventilator (HRV) or energy recovery ventilator (ERV).
3. Active Soil Depressurization (ASD)
ASD is the most effective radon mitigation method for most homes. This technique involves installing a system that removes radon from the soil beneath your home before it enters the living space. A vent pipe is inserted into the ground below your foundation, and a fan is used to draw radon gas from the soil and release it outside, where it quickly dilutes in the outdoor air. ASD systems are highly effective in reducing radon levels and can be customized to suit the specific needs of your home.
4. Sump Pump Radon Mitigation System
If your home has a sump pump, it can be used as part of a radon mitigation system. A sealed cover is placed over the sump pit, and a vent pipe is connected to the cover. A fan then pulls radon gas from the sump pit and vents it outside, similar to the ASD method.
As a homeowner in Manitoba, it’s essential to be aware of the risks associated with radon and take appropriate action to protect your family’s health. I highly recommend that every homeowner in our area conducts a radon test and, if necessary, works with a certified professional to implement an effective mitigation solution. The investment in radon testing and mitigation is a small price to pay for the peace of mind and long-term health benefits it provides.