Radon gas is a highly radioactive gas which is often found in pits and sewers. It is a natural gas which may exist in the soil, between igneous rocks, and also bore wells. Prolonged exposure to high levels of radon gas can increase chances of lung cancer. Research has proven that heavy smokers who are also exposed to radon gas are highly prone to lung cancer and lung tissue injury. It is not impossible to find this gas in the basement of old houses or places where your home comes directly into contact with soil.
The colorless and odorless radon gas can also seep through cracks on the floor or walls of your home and it can image damage your DNA structure. It is the second highest cause of lung-cancer related deaths after smoking in Canada, but unfortunately, many people are unaware of its existence or the risk it poses.
New Alberta building code requirements
The Alberta Building Code 2014 which has been promulgated on 1st November 2015, aims to protect you from the dangers of radon gas inhalation. It aims to reduce chances of radon gas entry into homes. It also mandates installation of a radon gas mitigation rough in-pipe that can be used to install an effective radon gas reduction system, in case the levels exceed the permissible amount.
Homes built as per the new Alberta building code will need to have the following features.
- Gravel sub-membrane layer: If a vent pipe with a fan is installed to reduce radon gas levels, this sub-membrane will allow the whole sub-floor to vent out gas instead of just one pulling in air and gas.
- Proper sealing around wall-floor joints: The joints between walls and floors in older homes are often the entry routes of radon gas. The new mechanism would reduce chances of a leak in.
- Radon passive pipe: A rough-in pipe placed beneath the floor would allow easy installation of a mitigation system in case quantity of radon gas in your home shoots up to dangerous levels.
- Poly-membrane beneath the floor: A poly-membrane underneath the floor slabs would reduce radon gas entry through seepage.
- Sump pit to be made airtight: Sump pits mainly found in basements should be sealed completely. This would reduce chances of radon gas entry.
The new Alberta Building code would apply to homes that have applied for a compliance certificate after 1st November 2015. One can hope that these measures in addition to better home designs will reduce the exposure to this deadly gas. Also, better education about this gas would help fight the myths and ignorance related to radon.