Skip to Main Content
Bookmark and Share print small medium large 

HOME / CHIEF PUBLIC HEALTH OFFICE /


Radon Information

Frequently Asked Questions


What is radon?
Radon is a colourless, odourless, radioactive gas that occurs naturally in the environment from the breakdown of uranium in soil and rock.
 
Is radon dangerous?
When radon escapes from the ground into the outdoor air, it is diluted to low concentrations and is not a concern. However, radon that enters an enclosed space, such as the basement of a building, or a home can sometimes accumulate to high levels. Radon is only dangerous to one’s health as the result of long term exposure. Lifetime exposure to high levels of radon can result in lung cell damage, which increases the risk of developing lung cancer.
 
Why did the province test radon levels in Prince Edward Island?
In 2007, Health Canada announced that the national guideline level for the acceptable level of radon gas in indoor air has been reduced from 800 to 200 becquerels/cubic meter (Bq/m3). In the winter of 2007-08 and 08-09, a province-wide survey of public buildings was conducted to gather baseline data on radon concentrations in PEI.
 
Where did the province test radon levels?
There were approximately 200 sites chosen across the province, which included schools, hospitals, manors, seniors housings units and other public buildings. All tests were conducted in the lowest occupied floor of each building, over a three month period. A Provincial Radon Committee chose the sites in consultation with the School Boards, PEI Housing and other government officials. The age, design and location of each building were taken into consideration.
 
What do the results of the tests tell us?
The PEI Radon Project was the first initiative to collect province-wide baseline data for radon levels. The results do not indicate that radon is a significant problem on PEI. The results showed that only eight per cent of the samples exceeded the national guideline level and 80 per cent of those samples were only slightly over the new guideline level. None of the samples exceeded the old guideline level.
 
How does PEI's results compare to other provinces?
Radon concentrations differ greatly throughout Canada, but are usually higher in areas where there is a higher concentration of uranium in rock and soil. While there is very little national data on radon levels, PEI’s results show relatively low radon levels compared with those found in many other regions of Canada. 
 
What else do we know about radon?
Radon is heavier than air and tends to accumulate in the lower areas of a building, such as a basement or crawl space. Also, radon levels are generally higher in these areas because they are nearest to the source and are usually poorly ventilated. Radon concentrations fluctuate seasonally, but are usually higher in winter than in summer, and are usually higher at night than during the day.
 
How can radon get into my home?
Radon is found in almost every home or building, but concentration levels will vary from one building to another, even if the buildings are similar and next door to each other. The air pressure inside the home is usually lower than in the soil surrounding the foundation. This difference in pressure draws air and other gases, including radon, from the soil into the home.
Radon can enter a building through cracks in concrete floors, joints between foundation walls and floors, floor drains, sump pits and other areas that may allow the gas to seep into the building. The only way to find out if radon is present in elevated levels is to perform a radon measurement test.
  
How can I reduce the amount of radon in my home?
If radon levels exceed the national guideline level (over 200 Bq/m3 ) the following steps can be taken to reduce radon to safer levels:
1. Increase the ventilation in the basement to allow an exchange of air.
2. Seal all cracks and openings in foundation walls and floors, and around pipes and drains.
3. Paint basement floors and foundation walls with two coats of paint and a sealant.
4. If the above measures fail to reduce the concentration of radon to the acceptable level, soil depressurization can also be used to lower radon levels in the home. 

For more information, please visit Health Canada's website
 
back to top