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Toronto Home Maintenance - Does your home have a radon problem?



(NC)-All homes contain some radon gas. The question is whether your home's radon level presents a danger that can be avoided? The amount of radon gas present in your home will depend on various factors such as soil characteristics, geographic location, a home's construction type, foundation condition, and weather.

It's almost impossible to predict your home's radon level based on these factors, but the good news is that a simple test can tell you if you're in the safe zone or not. There are a number or testing kits available to the Canadian public. Health Canada recommends that the radon test performed in a home or public building be a long-term measurement for a minimum of 3 months.

These detectors use a small piece of special plastic or film inside a container with a filter-covered opening. Air being tested diffuses (passive detector) or is pumped (active detector) through a filter covering a hole in the container. At the end of the test period the container is sealed and returned to a laboratory for analysis. The testing period of an alpha track detector is usually 1 to 12 months.

Two versions of this detector exist: one for short-term tests of a few days or weeks and another for tests of several weeks or months. The detector is exposed during the measurement period, allowing radon to diffuse through a filter-covered opening into the chamber. Results can be read in the home using a special analysis device, or mailed for laboratory analysis. This type of detector can be deployed for 1 to 12 months.

This detector plugs into a standard wall outlet much like a consumer carbon monoxide detector, and continuously monitors for radon. It allows the homeowner to make radon measurements in different areas of the home. After being plugged in for an initial period of 48 hours, the device displays the average radon concentration continuously. This convenience comes at a price though: continuous monitors are generally more expensive than other radon-testing devices.

Like most testing kits, charcoal detectors need to be exposed to home air for a specified time period. Charcoal detectors consisting of a charcoal-filled container covered with a screen and filter are exposed to a home's air for two to seven days. They are then sealed and sent to a lab for analysis.

You can find Canadian radon testing service providers listed in the yellow pages, on the Canadian Radiation Protection Association (CRPA) website at: www.crpa-acrp.com/biz_directory/radon/ or on the National Environmental Health Association (NEHA) website at: www.neha-nrpp.org/Canada_Measurement.html. You can also find out more about radon at Health Canada's website, www.healthcanada.gc.ca/radon, where you can order the free booklet Radon - A Guide for Canadian Homeowners.

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