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For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong.
(H. L. Mencken)
Circum Network settled in Cantley (Quebec) three years ago. Since then, we have sought to contribute to our community.
In the past four months, 40 volunteers residing in Cantley have taken a measurement of the radon level in their home. Eighteen of them (or 45%) found a concentration exceeding the worrysome threshold of 200 Bq/m³. So this is a very real problem in our community.
Radon is an odorless, colorless and tasteless gas produced by the decomposition of uranium naturally present in the soil. In the open, it disperses and does not cause concern. In a confined space like a house – especially a well-insulated house – it concentrates. Radon enters buildings through foundation openings such as cracks, sumps, crawl spaces, joints, drains, faucets.
Radon concentration is measured in becquerels per cubic meter (Bq/m³). For each member of a household, a level of 200 Bq/m³ is equivalent to smoking 11 cigarettes per day or pass 270 x-ray lung exams per year. The effects are linear so that 400 Bq/m³ corresponds to smoking one pack of cigarettes per day, for each member of the family.
According to the Canadian Cancer Society, exposure to radon increases the risk of lung cancer. Radon is the leading cause of lung cancer in non-smokers, and the second leading cause of lung cancer in smokers. Radon exposure kills more than 3,200 Canadians annually. In comparison, 1,900 Canadians die in car accidents annually and 110 in a home fire. Radon kills 29 times more than home fires.
The Canadian guideline for residential radon concentration not to be exceeded is 200 Bq/m³ – the World Health Organization recommends a lower threshold of 100 Bq/m³. Nearly 7% of Canadians live in homes where radon emissions exceed this threshold. In the greater Outaouais, the proportion is 13%.
It is easy to measure the residential radon level. The Quebec Lung Association (and other similar organizations) offer inexpensive measuring pucks that can be left in place for three to twelve months before sending them for analysis. Specialized electronic devices produce a measurement faster.
If the result of your radon test is above the guideline of 200 Bq/m³, you must adopt measures to reduce the concentration in your home. In the event of a high measurement, a certified expert can intervene to ensure the ventilation of the radon at the source. This intervention has a cost but is generally effective.
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238 Fleming Road, Cantley, Québec J8V 3B4