Mom and Pop House Tests Low for Radon!

Congratulations to mom and dad Simon for having such a low concentration of radon in their home in Russell, Ontario. My parents live in a single family, 2 story house with a slab on grade foundation in the basement. I deployed a long-term eperm device in their basement on October 1. I recently finished analyzing the device and now I am happy to know they are living in radon safe house with a radon concentration level of 33 Becquerels per cubic meter.

For those who are not aware, radon is an odorless, tasteless, invisible gas that comes from the breakdown of uranium in bedrock and soil beneath houses. This gas infiltrates the house via the basement by seeping through tiny cracks, unnoticeable gaps, sump-pumps, holes, etc. This gas can get trapped in houses and build up to high concentrations. The radon concentration remains unknown in any given house until it is tested. The radon concentration can vary greatly from house to house as there are many variables involved.

Fortunately, my parents no longer have to wonder about radon in their home. They can rest easy knowing they are at a very low risk of developing lung cancer due to radon.

If anyone would like a radon measurement done in their home, feel free to call Simon Air Quality at 613-866-2092 or visit http://www.simonairquality.com for more information.

 

 

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Composition of Pollutants in our Indoor Air

Indoor pollution has become very rampant in the modern world. What exactly is contained in the so-called indoor pollutants? The chemicals and harmful gasses vary in the level of harm from one pollutant to another. Following is a list of pollutants composition in indoor air.

  1. Carbon monoxide
  2. Formaldehyde
  3. Benzene
  4. Nitrogen dioxide
  5. Naphthalene

These are the highest, most dangerous indoor air pollutants; However, there are still some other less hazardous but still harmful ones.

  1. Tobacco smoke

Smoking tobacco is the major cause of most indoor emissions which lead to various health effects. Second-hand tobacco smoke is associated with coronary heart disease and irritation, respiratory system diseases in adults. In children, it causes mid-ear infections and sudden death syndrome.

  1. Lead

Lead is a common metal in our households as it is used to manufacture a lot of things. It was majorly used for paint manufacturing, but it has since been banned. This is because it has adverse effects on people’s health due to indoor air pollution. To children, even the smallest exposure to lead is a major concern to their slowly developing bodies.

  1. Phosphates

This is a major pollutant of indoor air. High and unprotected exposure leads to diseases such as asthma and rhinitis. The good news is that it is very unlikely for this pollutant to have adverse health effects when inhaled from indoor air. Scientific reports state that phosphates are not considered a major health concern.

  1. Radon

This gas occurs naturally and comes from the ground. This particular emission is experienced where the bedrock has high levels of uranium. To get indoors, radon diffuses through the soil into the building. It is a major indoor pollutant and even more hazardous since it leads to lung cancer.

  1. Organophosphate pesticides

This chemical is a composition of the pesticides we use at our homes to get rid of insects. This indoor pollutant leads to the damage of the nervous system. It, therefore, has extremely adverse effects on children. Indoor exposure to this pollutants is common since it can be ingested or inhaled from the surfaces, the quantities available indoors might not be big enough to give adverse effects immediately, but it does in the long run upon inhalation of these chemicals.

  1. Volatile organic compounds

These are present in the majority of consumer products and decomposing materials. The major categories are benzene, naphthalene, and formaldehyde. Volatile organic compounds will react with the ozone layer to form harmful indoor gasses. Similarly, when some holes hold items are dispose of, their decaying leads to the emission of yet another gas that pollutes indoor air. The levels of volatile organic compounds in a home may serve as an indicator of the quality of the air that is contained indoors.

Radon: How Indoor and Outdoor Levels Lead to Lung Cancer

In today’s world, indoor and outdoor air has become a major issue. If the human race is not careful to look into how the air is polluted, we could be putting our lives on the line. It is vital for us to consider the harmful effects and the huge impacts of the air pollution we inhale. There are numerous precautions we can take to ensure cleanliness of our air. We need to take necessary precaution to manage air pollution to deal with harmful gases such as carbon monoxide, sulphur, and radon among others.

Credible research has surged in the past decade that links environmental quality of air to causality of chronic respiratory problems and more severe conditions such as lung cancer. The effects of poor indoor and outdoor air quality are even more graphic.

Among the most prevalent impurities in the air is radon. Radon is a naturally occurring radioactive gas that is released from decay of soil, radium rocks, thorium and uranium. It is invisible, colourless, and tasteless. It seeps through the ground into the atmosphere. Radon gas exists in trace amounts in well-ventilated areas but in closed areas such as underground mines, it exists in substantial amounts that heighten the risk of lung cancer. Therefore, everybody breathes radon; however, it is the amount of inhaled radon that makes the difference.

Radon infiltrates through cracks that are in the floor, walls, foundation and accumulates indoors. It may also be released from building materials and from water in wells that contain radon. It is particularly high in well-insulated homes, tightly sealed enclosures and houses that are built on soils that are rich in uranium, thorium and radium. Outdoor air has lower levels of radon concentration since seawaters that have minimal radium levels act as sinks. The outdoor levels of radon are determined majorly by soil characteristics, meteorological conditions and local topology.

So, how does radon lead to lung cancer? This gas decays at very high rates releasing small radioactive particles. When the tiny particles are inhaled, they damage the cells that line the respiratory system. As a result, long-term exposure leads to lung cancer. Did you know that lung cancer is the only cancer proven to be related with inhaling radon?

Homes should be tested for radon. Homes in the same neighbourhood can have different levels of radon. Therefore, testing for radon is the only way to establish the severity of radon in your home. Also, radon testing is an easy and affordable process that can help you manage the risk of the gas. Lung cancer cases can be greatly minimized or avoided if the levels of radon both indoors and outdoors are well managed. Reducing radon levels can be done by sealing cracks in the floor and walls, or by altering the flow of air in a building.

How Poor Indoor Air Quality Negatively Effects Health

For lots of people, indoor air quality is sometimes as bad as outside air quality. In some places, the indoor air quality is even worse. Indoor air quality is affected by a number of factors. Some of these factors are structural while others have to do with your habits and conduct. Every year lots of people get sick and become diseased because of this. A typical property could be affected by one of the many contaminants available in a home. The unfortunate reality is that often people aren’t able to link the symptoms to the poor indoor air quality until it’s too late.

                                                Common Health Symptoms.

The symptoms involved usually resemble the symptoms of other conditions such as stress, allergies, influenza, and colds. The most common symptoms are sneezing, fatigue, upper respiratory congestion, watery eyes, dizziness, and headaches. The others are coughing, facial pimples, shortness of breath and disorientation. The moment you enter a room, and you begin to feel these symptoms the chances are that the room has indoor air pollution. Be acutely aware if the symptoms cease once you leave the room. Always look around to make sure no chemicals and contaminants are lying around the office.

                                               Respiratory Health Effects.

While most of these health effects are general and resemble the symptoms of lots of other diseases, there are those that are specific. The primary tissue and organs affected by poor indoor quality is the respiratory system. The respiratory symptoms are dyspnea (painful breathing), Rhinitis (a runny nose, nasal inflammation or nasal congestion), epistaxis (nose bleeding), and pharyngitis (a sore throat & coughs). The other respiratory challenges are wheezing, severe lung disease and worsening asthma.

                                                 More Severe Health Effects.

Besides the respiratory symptoms and the general symptoms, there are severe reactions to such poor indoor air quality. These are the reactions that require immediate medical attention. Usually, this happens when the poor air quality triggers other conditions, or the air quality is at toxic levels. These severe symptoms include rashes, lethargy, loss of hearing, fever, and chills. The other major symptoms include rapid heartbeat, eye irritation, dizziness, vomiting, nausea, and muscle pains. These symptoms usually begin to occur after long-term exposure to poor indoor air quality.

                                      Top indoor air Contaminants.

The contaminants of indoor air fall into 12 broad categories. These include Formaldehyde, VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds), Pesticides, Lead, Carbon Monoxide, Carbon dioxide, nitrogen dioxide as well as Sulfur Dioxide. The others fall under radon, asbestos, biological hazards, RSP (respirable particulates), ETS (Tobacco Smoke) and PAHs (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons). Most of these contaminants can be found in the cleaning products, perfumes, dyes and glues that we use on a daily basis. Always make sure you check out the ingredients used in the manufacture of an item before buying it for use.

                                    Diseases Linked To Poor Indoor Air Quality.

Poor air quality has often been categorized as the top environmental health risk. The poor quality has been associated with millions of deaths annually. The top disease arising from poor indoor air quality include stroke which accounts for 34% of all the deaths. The others are ischaemic heart disease (26%), COPD (22%), acute lower respiratory infections in infants, and lung cancer (6%).

                                                    How to Improve Indoor Air Quality.

If your house isn’t designed to specification, the chances are that it may have poor air quality. The poor air quality could be linked to hazardous items stored within, poor hygiene or poor ventilation. First, you should ensure that you install an efficient and functioning HVAC system. Secondly run the A/C system as often as you need to. Thirdly manage the humidity levels with the rooms at all times since they can lead to the growth of mold and dust mites. Lastly bring in a contractor to improve and expand your existing ventilation systems.

Brief Overview of Radon

Radon (Rn) has an atomic number 86. On the periodic table, you can find it in Group 18 and Period 6 just to the right of astatine. Radon is listed under the Noble gases category along with neon, helium, xenon, argon, and krypton.

 

It is a radioactive gas released from normal decay of radium, thorium, and uranium in rock and soil. Radon is an invisible, tasteless, odourless gas that escapes through the ground and diffuses into the air. Depending on local geology, it can dissolve into ground water and it can be released into air when the water is used. In areas where ventilation is inadequate, such as in underground mines, radon can accumulate to a harmful level which greatly increases the risk of lung cancer.

 

Radon is present in the air all around the world, but the level depends on local geological conditions. Everyone breathes radon every day, but mostly at very low levels. Those who inhale radon at high levels have higher risk of developing lung cancer. In Canada, the tolerable level of radon in indoor air is 200 Becquerels per cubic metre (Bq/m3). In 2014, a data published by CBS News showed higher levels of Radon in the following locations in Canada:

 

  • Armstrong Station, Ont. (5,657 Bq/m3)
  • Bas-Paquetville, N.B. (5,590 Bq/m3)
  • Sparwood, B.C. (2941 Bq/m3)
  • Gaspé, Que. (2,923 Bq/m3)
  • Gooderham, Ont. (2,741 Bq/m3).

 

Because radon escapes through the ground, any crack in walls, floors, or foundation of homes can provide a tunnel for the gas to accumulate indoor. Building materials and even wells can contain water contaminated by radon. If a home is well insulated and tightly sealed, but it stands on soil rich in elements of radium, uranium, and thorium, radon levels can easily reach to a worrying level. Basement and first floors usually have the highest level because they are closest to the ground.

 

Radon decays quickly, leaving radioactive particles. When inhaled, those radioactive particles destroy cells that line the lung. The only type of cancer that can be associated with radon is lung cancer; the disease is a long term effect of the radioactive particles. There is no sufficient evidence to diagnose any short term effects.

 

Almost every home in Canada has radon, but the level varies. To test the level of radon, you can purchase a long term radon test kit or hire a certified professional to figure out the result within short term test. If the level reaches at least 200 Bq/m3, you will need radon mitigation professional to reduce it. One of the best method is called depressurization which basically channels radon from underground to outdoor air before the gas enters your home. It can reduce radon level by more than 90%. For best results, you should add more ventilations and seal possible radon entry points inside your home.

 

Simon Indoor Air Quality provides professional services to test radon levels in your home and continue to monitor and improve air quality by performing the best mitigation method and installing new ventilation. Visit http://www.simonairquality.com to learn more!

Mike Holmes: Radon is our second silent killer – and testing your home is the only solution

We turned the clocks back an hour last weekend – it’s also a good time to change the batteries in smoke alarms and carbon monoxide (CO) detectors (since batteries need to be changed twice a year, doing it when the clocks change makes it easy to remember). If you haven’t done it yet, do it now.… Continue reading