New Brunswick

Radon level testing easy, important, expert says

A New Brunswick radon specialist says it's easy and important for people to test their homes for the radioactive gas.

25% of New Brunswick homes have unacceptable levels of radioactive gas, figures show

With New Brunswick recording some of the highest radon levels in homes across the country, a Fredericton man who specializes in removing the radioactive gas says it's important for people to protect themselves.

About 25 per cent of the homes in the province have unacceptable radon levels, according to information released by Health Canada on Tuesday.

Radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer, after smoking, killing about 3,000 Canadians a year, Health Canada says.

Victor Nowicky, president of ARC Geobac Group Inc., which does radon testing and mitigation, says there are some simple steps people can take to keep out the invisible, odourless gas.

"Seal every opening in the floor, in the walls that you have. Put a cover on the sump. If you have a crawl space, put an impermeable liner on top of that," he said.

"Just any way to prevent the soil gas from entering the home would be the first step a homeowner could take."

Radon is naturally emitted from the earth through the breakdown of uranium in soil.

Testers cost about $50 and area available at many hardware stores or from the New Brunswick Lung Association, says Nowicky.

"It's probably about an inch-and-a-quarter in diameter, it's a little black disc that looks like a small hockey puck. And you simply put it on the wall of your basement, or an appropriate place in the house …​ and you leave it for 90 days, send it into the lab, and they'll give you a result," he said.

If a major mitigation is required, it can cost between $2,000 and $4,000, Nowicky said.

CBC News obtained data showing the results of approximately 14,000 radon tests in homes across the country.

About 10 per cent of those tests showed levels above Health Canada's guidelines.

One of the highest levels was found in Bas-Paquetville, 40 minutes east of Bathurst.

The 2010 National Building Code of Canada which will be enforced starting in January 2015 will require designers and engineers to consider radon protection in their designs. The new code will require a radon mitigation system be roughed in.

It's estimated that radon exposure leads to the death of 3,000 Canadians a year.