Radon gas in Canada
Canada contains many radon-generating regions and, regrettably, our built environment (our homes, schools, workplaces, etc.) has been constructed in such a way that it has concentrated radon to unnaturally high levels within indoor air. There are three factors needed to incur hazardous radon exposure:
- Geologic source and pathway (upwards) for radon into a property
- Building metrics that actively draw up and concentrate radon
- Human behaviour that enables higher exposure
How does Canada compare to the rest of the world?
Through the Evict Radon National Study, we have identified the people of Canada as having the third highest radon exposure in the world. This means that Canadians are in fact having radon exposures known to increase our lifetime risk of lung cancer.
Why is Canada so high?
- Canada is a very large country with many areas of very high radon potential (meaning >300 Bq/kg of radioactive minerals in our ground)
- Canada also has strong seasonal fluctuations in weather and temperature –meaning our winters are often very cold, and our summers are very hot. Collectively, this environment causes Canadians to spend a great deal of time inside either artificially warmed or cooled indoor air environments. Such environments have the potential for highly concentrated radon levels.
- Without knowing it, Canadians have settled and built our villages, towns and cities on soils with very high radon potential, and we have designed and built houses that are very ‘good’ radon capture and contain devices. Thus, Canadians are among the more radon-exposed populations on Earth. It is important to recognize that this problem is preventable but, by and large, is no-one’s “fault”.
There have been several recent studies on Canadian radon exposure including:
- The Cross Canada Radon Survey from Health Canada
- Canadian geologic radon potential mapping
- Publications comparing Canadian radon to countries all over the globe (Gaskin et al., 2018, Stanley et al., 2019 and Khan et al. 2021).
Is all of Canada at risk?
Breaking down Canada into five regions, we have found that all regions of Canada contain properties that have high indoor radon. This means that the only way to know if your property is high in radon, is to test your home.