According to Cancer Care Ontario, more than 33 percent of Ontario area homeowners are at risk for significant radon exposure.
What is radon? If you’ve been hearing more about this odourless, colourless radioactive gas lately, it isn’t by accident.
By now, the link between radon exposure and lung cancer is well established. While radon is found naturally anywhere uranium-rich rock deposits are found, it turns out we have a lot of uranium-rich rock deposits here in Canada.
In fact, radon exposure is the second leading cause of lung cancer nationwide – right after smoking!
But what is the link between radon and homes with basements or crawl spaces? Why are you more likely to experience toxic radon exposure in these types of homes? Let's find out.
How Radon Gets Into Your Home
A multi-year study determined that one-quarter of all Ontario homes had enough radon to require remedial measures.
This is scary!
But how does radon get into your home in the first place?
When the uranium in rock formations begins to decay, radon is one of the by-products it gives off. So radon, which is a gas, is always rising up from beneath the Earth’s surface.
Homes with basements and crawl spaces are quite common in Canada, as they are in many geographic areas with colder winter seasons and more temperate summers.
But this also means that as uranium trapped in soil-submerged rocks decays, the radon it emits will encounter your home’s crawl space or basement before it ever sees daylight. As it works to rise upward, the lower air pressure inside your home will pull it inside using a sort of vacuum pressure.
Radon can build to significant concentrations inside a basement or crawl space because it gets trapped in these enclosed spaces with no fresh air to dilute it and carry it away.
The Link Between Radon and Lung Cancer
Every year, nearly 30,000 Canadians find out they have lung cancer, and 21,000 Canadians lose their lives to lung cancer each year.
The Canadian Lung Association reports that approximately 16 percent of all newly diagnosed lung cancer cases each year can be traced directly to radon exposure.
That is 4,800 cases of lung cancer caused by radon exposure annually.
If you live in a home where someone smokes and you are also regularly exposed to radon, your risk increases.
How Dangerous Is Radon?
As we mentioned in an earlier section here, due to air pressure differences, radon in the surrounding water and soil is always going to be naturally attracted to indoor spaces.
If your home has a crawl space or basement, you are always at greater risk of radon exposure than if your home lacked these extra features.
The reason for this is simple: once radon reaches the surface, it dissipates naturally into the air and ceases to be a significant health threat.
But when radon encounters a basement or crawl space before it reaches the soil’s surface, it will get drawn inside and trapped. As more radon comes inside, the toxicity of air inside these below-ground spaces intensifies.
The risk is such that it can be dangerous to live, work or work out in basements. If your kids use the basement as a recreation room, they are at greater risk than if they played above ground or outside.
How to Keep Radon Out of Your Space
When in doubt, it is always wise to do a home air quality test for radon. Omni technicians can help you identify the best way to test for radon in your home, basement or crawl space.
However, if you are having issues with mildew, mould, moisture, wood rot, odours, insects, critters, cold floors, escalating energy bills, frozen pipes, leaks, humidity or any other all-too-common crawl space and basement problems, you may want to go ahead and take action anyway.
Because the same crawl space encapsulation and basement waterproofing solutions that can solve these other problems can block radon too!
Understanding how affordable basement waterproofing and crawl space encapsulation keep radon out begins with understanding how radon gets inside your space in the first place.
As we learned earlier, radon really can’t avoid entering a below-ground basement or crawl space, because of the air pressure difference. The negative pressure exerted on subterranean radon will draw it in through a well, sump pump, septic or drain line, window well, window, floor or wall cracks or unfinished dirt floors.
So the only way to keep out radon is to block all entry points.
Crawl space encapsulation and basement waterproofing are both effective methods of blocking radon’s entry points.
Both install a vapour barrier to keep moisture, humidity and gaseous airborne matter out of your crawl space or basement. Both serve to help insulate, protect and purify your below-ground space.
Here, you might be wondering why simply venting your crawl space wouldn’t work just as well.
Ventilation was frequently used inside crawl spaces in the past. But today we know that for every problem crawl space ventilation might solve, it creates two more problems that need solving.
Ventilation is the wrong solution for every problem a crawl space could have and it is certainly a band-aid at best for radon exposure.
In contrast, crawl space encapsulation will not just block passing radon from entering your crawl space. It will also fix issues with mould and mildew, humidity, unwelcome insect and critter visitors, rotting wood, frozen water pipes, cold above-ground floors, increasing energy bills and much more.
In the same way, interior basement waterproofing will turn a dangerous, dank and essentially unusable basement space into a valuable addition to your existing home.
As a happy side benefit, you may find you are paying less for your homeowner’s insurance premiums once you install radon-blocking protective measures in your home’s crawl space or basement.
Get in Touch
Are you tired of worrying that your family is being exposed to lung cancer-causing radon? We can help!
Contact us online or give us a call at 1-866-875-6664.