380 people died of Carbon Monoxide poisoning from 2000 to 2009 in Canada, about 38/year. And 3200 died from Radon last year. It kills 100x people as Carbon Monoxide. And CO metres are mandatory, but no one has heard of Radon. Get the news out, forward this blog link!
So I’ve been on a bit of a mission to educate people on Radon of late. If you are already sold on the risk, and just want to measure it, tl;dr: buy the Airthings Wave. But as part of my mission, I’ve run into a set of ‘myths’ that are just not right. And, as I explain to people and they buy the metre and measure, many are finding that they have this problem. So, here’s my PSA.
What is Radon? It is a radioactive gas that is heavier than air and sticks around in your basement.
Myth #1. I tested my house when I moved in.
Fact. Radon is seasonal, it flows with groundwater. So a melt-day in winter is different than the day before.
Fact. You might have a small crack that has formed in your foundation, in your parge-coat, or even in the rock your house is on, it changes over time.
Myth #2. I don’t live in a high-risk area
Fact. Your neighbour might have very low Radon, and you could be very high, its hyper-local. Also, check your local map, but nearly everywhere is at risk
Myth #3. I don’t smoke, or spend much time in my basement
Fact. Radon is the #2 cause of lung cancer in Ontario in non-smokers, and #1 in smokers. 3200 people in Canada die yearly from Radon. 16% of lung cancer deaths (and more of radical life-changing mediation) are caused by it.
Myth #4. I would need some complex industrial system to measure/mitigate, its too complex for me
Fact. Head to Amazon, buy this Airthings Wave. It integrates with your smartphone and gives you easy readings, but, it also works fully standalone. Its run on AA batteries (which are good for a year plus). If you have a problem, its likely just a bit more air circulation is enough anyway.
Now, you may have seen a map of your Country/County/City, something like the below. Yes, that is true of the average. But, its hyper-local (see myth #2 above). Just because Ontario is less risky than Manitoba, doesn’t mean Waterloo is, or the street I am on. Ontario is 1.6x larger than Texas, that is a big area to average when you are talking about measuring something that varies metre by metre.
So, why do I recommend the Airthings Wave? Well, its really the only one out there that is available that has some easy means of extracting the measurements over time. And over time matters. Its the average exposure that you care about, not the instantaneous. You don’t want the alternatives, the one w/ the LCD screen you check and write down and graph by hand. And the other alternative, the one with the charcoal kit you send away each month? For sure you won’t do that reliably.
But I also recommend it since I bought it, and it works. And it was dead simple. Insert battery, done. I paired the app from my phone so I can see the pretty graphs, and every once in a while my phone pulls the last N days of values from it, but that’s about it.
Would it be cool if it were WiFi and I had a web page to share? Yes, but it works just great without it.
So, I promise you, if you figured out the technology to open this web page, you can easily buy and use this Radon metre. At best, it will be a bit of money spent that gets you peace of mind and nothing else. At the other end of the spectrum, it could increase you, your children, your pets life expectancy.
If you life in an apartment, well, spend the money on something else 🙂