Misconception #1: "It will be difficult and messy to fix a high radon problem in my home and systems are costly. It's not worth it."
In most cases, mitigating a home with high radon levels is a quick process, often completed in two days or less. We are always careful to protect your home from damage and dust during mitigation work and will leave the work site clean and tidy. High radon levels can be reduced in most homes for about the same cost as other common home maintenance tasks such as replacing a furnace or air conditioner.
Misconception #2: "My radon level is 180 Bq/m3. I passed!"
In reality, there is no safe level of radon. The risk of lung cancer from radon is best described as a linear relationship between the time of exposure to radon and the level of radon exposure. A radon level of 180 Bq/m3 is only marginally safer than 200 Bq/m3. In fact if more time is spent in that environment it can be much more dangerous. Someone who spends 20 hours a day in a space that has 180 Bq/m3 is 1.5 times more likely to get lung cancer as someone who spends 12 hours a day in a space that has 200 Bq/m3. Even if your home's radon level is under the Canadian guideline of 200 Bq/m3, you may still want to consider lowering it to as low as reasonable possible.
Misconception #3: "I have a new home and a radon system has already been installed so I don't have a radon problem."
The BC Building Code requires that a radon rough-in, not a working system, be installed during new home construction. People often think that the presence of a rough-in means their home is protected from radon. This is not true. A new home must be tested for radon and, if radon levels are high, a properly installed rough-in can make the installation of a radon mitigation system easier.
Misconception #4: "Radon - isn't that just another one of those tinfoil hat theories?
Radon has been proven to cause cancer by numerous scientific studies. Countries and organizations all around the world including the United Nations World Health Organization (WHO), US Environmental Protection Agency, Health Canada and many others have recognized radon as a known human carcinogen.
Misconception #5: "My house doesn't have a basement so I can't have a radon problem."
Many homes without basements have very high radon levels. Radon can enter a building at any point where there is soil contact. Soil gas movement is still influenced by mechanisms such as the stack effect, whether your house has a basement or not. We have seen this first-hand in slab-on-grade homes that we have mitigated in Revelstoke.
Misconception #6: "My house is old and very drafty; I must have low radon levels."
While a drafty house may have more natural ventilation to dilute radon levels, it can also have a much stronger stack effect that can pull even more radon into the house.
Misconception #7: "My neighbour tested and has low radon levels so radon levels in my house will be low too."
Radon levels can vary drastically from one house to the next. In Revelstoke, test results for one house were 200 Bq/m3 but were over 800 Bq/m3 for the house next door. In another case, test results for one Revelstoke home were under 100 Bq/m3 but results for a house two blocks away were over 1300 Bq/m3. The only way to know the radon level in your house is to test.
Misconception #8: "My basement tested high for radon but I just don't let the kids play down there anymore so we should be safe."
The air in a house mixes and naturally moves around. For many homes, radon levels can be just as high on the upper floors as it is in the basement. If you are basing a decision not to mitigate on the belief that high radon levels are contained to your basement, we strongly recommend testing more than one floor in your house to confirm radon levels throughout your home.
Misconception #9: I am pretty handy - how hard can it be to install a radon mitigation system?
The skills and knowledge of every handy homeowner are different. There is a lot more to a radon mitigation system than installing some pipe and a fan. A certified radon mitigation professional has the training and tools to assess your home for potential radon entry points, design a properly-sized system, install the system according to best practices and to test and verify that the system is working properly.
Health Canada researched the effectiveness of the most common radon mitigation method, active sub-slab depressurization systems. They found that homeowner-installed systems reduced radon levels by an average of 19% while systems installed by certified mitigation professionals reduced radon levels by an average of 88%.
Most importantly, a system that has been installed improperly can very quickly flood a house with radon gas. In these cases a house with a 250 becquerel radon problem can become a house with a 2,500 becquerel radon problem in less than a day, thanks to the improperly installed system.
Improperly installed mitigation systems can be fixed (we know, we have done it!) but this ends up costing the homeowner twice. To ensure a mitigation system will work properly from the beginning, hire a certified radon mitigation professional.
Misconception #10: "My house and basement slab are new and very airtight so I can't have a radon problem."
All types and ages of homes can have high radon levels. Radon can enter buildings through very tiny openings - cumulative openings the diameter of your pinky finger are enough to raise radon levels above 200 becquerels. A newer home may have fewer entry points for radon but if it is more airtight, there are also fewer exit points. Some of the highest radon levels we have seen have been in homes built in the last 10 years.
Misconception #11: "I used a special radon barrier under the slab and sealed my foundation well so I won't have a radon problem."
Special sub-slab barriers and good foundation sealing may help reduce radon levels but what about cracks in the foundation walls or around basement windows? High radon levels can result from cumulative openings the diameter of your pinky finger. While good construction practices can reduce your radon levels, the only way to know if they have worked completely is to test your home.
Misconception #12: "My house has a Heat Recovery Ventilator (HRV). I ventilate so much, that radon cannot be a problem."
Yes it can, and in many cases in Revelstoke an HRV even on boost is not enough to lower radon levels below 200 becquerels. Chantal's family home had a radon issue where, even when a very powerful HRV ran on boost, the house still had radon levels over 700 becquerels. HRVs do help lower radon levels, but generally they are unable to mitigate a radon issue.