Health Canada recommends remediating if your radon level is greater than 200 Bq/m3; however, your body is unable to distinguish between 195 Bq/m3 and 205 Bq/m3. If your reading is close to 200 Bq/m3, it’s important to evaluate your relative risk.
If you answer “yes” to any of these questions, you may want to consider remediating:
- Are there children in the house? Children respire more quickly than adults, increasing their risk of radon-induced lung cancer (over a sustained period of time).
- Does anyone work from home or spend a significant amount of time at home? This question is especially timely given our current circumstances.
- Does anyone have a family history of cancer? Their genes may make them more susceptible to radon-induced lung cancer.
- Is anyone a current or former smoker? The WHO estimates smokers have a 25 times greater risk of developing radon-induced lung cancer than nonsmokers. Former smokers also have an increased risk over nonsmokers.
- Is anyone regularly exposed to contaminants such as metal or leather dust, diesel or gas fumes, asbestos, or heavy air pollution? If so, they should aim to reduce their radon exposure.
If you answered “no” to those questions, you may decide to wait, especially if the following applies to you:
- Are you planning any major renovations? Changing your roof or HVAC system or developing your basement for example can all change your home’s radon concentration. It’s important to retest after any major renovations are completed.
- Are you moving soon? Your risk of developing radon-induced lung cancer is dependant on the length of time you are exposed to high concentrations of radon gas. It is important to note, however, that radon remediation can be a selling feature and that you may be required to disclose the reading to potential buyers. If the new owners are aware of the home’s reading, they may decide it’s in their best interest to remediate—especially if they have any of the above-mentioned risk factors.
No level of radon exposure is safe. At the end of the day, the ultimate goal is to decrease your exposure as much as practicable and ensure you can breathe easy while at home. Remember, regardless if you remediate now or choose to wait, Health Canada recommends retesting your home every five years.
Quastel et al. Environmental Scan of Radon Law and Policy: Best Practices in Canada and the European Union. Toronto and Burnaby: Canadian Environmental Law Association and CAREX Canada, 2018, https://cela.ca/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/Radon-Policy-Scan-Full-Rept-with-Appendices_0.pdf. Accessed 11 May 2021.
“Radon and Health.” World Health Organization, 2 February 2021, https://www.who.int/phe/radiation/backgrounder_radon/en/. Accessed 11 May 2021.