Beware of radon gas that can cause lung cancer

Radon is the leading cause of lung cancer in non-smokers. Exposure to high levels of radon in indoor air increases the risk of lung cancer. The risk of lung cancer depends on the level of radon and the duration of exposure.

Radon gas is a radioactive natural gas produced by the decomposition of uranium contained in soil and rocks. It is colourless, tasteless, and odourless, so it cannot be seen, tasted or smelled.

The radon gas released from the ground to the outdoor air will be diluted and will not affect human health. However, in a closed space (such as a house), radon gas will accumulate to high levels, endangering individuals and family members.

Radon gas will be decomposed into radioactive elements and be inhaled into the lungs. Radioactive energy can damage lung cells. Prolonged exposure to high levels of radon gas can cause lung cancer.

The Public Health Department of Ontario estimates that about 13% of deaths from lung cancer are caused by radon, which is the second cause of lung cancer after smoking. It is even more common among non-smokers. A high level of radon and smoking at the same time will significantly increase the risk of lung cancer.

The reason radon enters the home is that the air pressure in the house is usually lower than the air pressure in the surrounding soil. The difference in air pressure draws air and other gases (including radon) into the place. The radon gas will come into contact with the ground from the house. The opening into the house includes cracks in the foundation and walls, construction joints, pipes surrounding tap water and gas, supporting pillars, window cases, ground drainage pipes, cesspit gaps, and wall holes.

Uranium is a common element in the earth’s crust and is everywhere. Therefore, radon gas is present in almost all houses. However, the level of radon gas may vary significantly in different regions. The soil and rock could contain higher levels of uranium. In those areas, the radon level will also be higher.

The radon level in each house will be very different. Even if the appearance is similar to the location, the only way to know the indoor radon level is by measurement.

There are two methods to measure indoor radon levels:

(1) Self-use radon meter measurement: it must be measured following the instructions:

* Choose the most appropriate measurement location in the house.

* Place the measuring instrument for at least three months.

* Send the measuring instrument to the laboratory and wait for the measurement result.

* If the measurement result shows that the radon level exceeds the standard, appropriate actions should be taken.

The best time to measure is in winter: the radon level fluctuates, varies from day to day, and from season to season, and is usually highest in winter.

Because in winter, the house will be more sealed than in summer, and it will be warmer than the soil surrounding the house. It will suck more radon into the house; in summer, open windows allow air circulation and reduce the level of radon in the home. For this reason, the best time to measure is in winter and measure for three months, which can provide the most accurate information on the radon level in the house.

(2) Hiring professional surveying personnel for measurement: It is necessary to ensure that they are approved and perform long-term measurements for at least three months.

Suppose the measurement result is beyond the standard (more than 200 Bq/m3). In that case, a qualified professional should be hired as soon as possible to determine the best and most cost-effective method to reduce the radon level in the house.

The installation of a radon mitigation system usually takes only one day, and the cost is affordable. Ordinary home repair costs are enough to reduce the radon level by 80%.