Many Prince George area residents may have an unseen health risk right inside their homes and not know it.
Thankfully, Hardy Nickel at Central Interior Radon Testing and Mitigation can help clear the air - literally - and help homeowners’ breathe more easily.
The potential problem comes from radon gas rising from the soils below a home, seeping through cracks in the foundation and then collecting in possibly harmful levels inside living areas.
“Radon comes from uranium that is in the gravel soil, which, as it breaks down, releases radon gas as one of its byproducts,” Hardy explains.
In 2014, the BC Lung Association, BC Cancer Agency and Northern Health undertook a study that showed 29% of homes in the region had radon levels above Health Canada guidelines.
According to Health Canada, approximately 16% of lung cancer deaths in Canada are linked to radon exposure.
Central Interior Radon first tests radon levels to see if there is a concern and then installs a mitigation system to reduce the risk of radon accumulating inside the home.
“I’ve seen levels from anywhere just above the Health Canada guideline of 200 becquerels (one of three units used to measure radioactivity), per metre of air, to the higher side of 4,000,” Hardy says. “After my mitigation, we can get that number down to anywhere from 50 to 90 becquerels.”
And that figure is significantly lower than the more stringent World Health Organization’s (WHO) safety threshold of 100 becquerels.
Installing the mitigation system is a relatively simple process.
“What you are trying to do is create negative (air) pressure under a home’s concrete (basement) slab,” Hardy says. “If you can accomplish that, you can stop the radon coming in the house through any cracks or other places.
“We drill about a six-inch hole through the concrete slab, usually in a very convenient spot - a mechanical or laundry room or a closet somewhere. And we run pipes from the hole to the outside and connect a Special Randon fan to the piping to create suction underneath the slab and vent the air outside,” Hardy says.
To date, Central Interior Randon Testing and Mitigation has installed the system in about 600 homes in the Prince George area, a relatively low number against the region’s housing stock as well as systems throughout the province of B.C.
So, what’s holding homeowners back from getting it done?
“One is the notion they will have trouble re-selling their home once a system has been put in place,” Hardy says. “But that’s the total opposite.”
New real estate guidelines call for homeowners to disclose levels of radon gas, if known.
“And that’s starting to become an issue for the real estate market,” Hardy says.
If you decide to have work done to address radon gas in your home, Hardy says to be sure you use a C-NRPP (Canadian-National Radon Proficiency Program) certified installer like those at Central Interior Radon, and to test after the system has been operational.
For more information, visit their website at ciradontesting.ca.