Radon is a cancer-causing radioactive gas. You cannot see, smell or taste radon, but it may be a problem in your home, so advises the US Surgeon General. The US Surgeon General has warned that radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States today. If you smoke and your home has high radon levels, you’re at high risk for developing lung cancer. Some scientific studies of radon exposure indicate that children may be more sensitive to radon. This may be due to their higher respiration rate and their rapidly dividing cells, which may be more vulnerable to radiation damage.
Pre-Purchase and existing home inspections in the USA insist that Radon inspections are absolutely necessary to ensure the safety of inhabitants. But why is it so necessary in the USA. One issue is that the design of homes differs significantly between the USA and Australia especially when it comes to basements. The USA thrives on using the sub floor area as the man cave, or the kids play room and this is one of the contributors to higher levels of Radon in the US as opposed to AUS.
Subfloor rooms, especially totally underground, attract additional levels of Radon that would normally be allowed to dissipate harmlessly to the environment. The normal Radon gases from the earth can get absorbed through sub-floor walls and sumps and accumulate in low lying areas such as basements, infecting inhabitants to the areas. Once levels increase they dissipate from the basement areas to the ground floor areas of the home.
The second issue is that Radon levels across the US are considerably higher than those in Australia. A recent US survey of 7 states returned Radon levels in excess of 4pCi/L in 1/3 of the homes tested. To bring this into perspective 4pCi/L is equivalent to 148Bqm3
So where can we find high levels of Radon in Australia and how dangerous are they?
The Australian Radiation Protection & Nuclear Safety Agency (AUS Government) stated that in the 1990 survey of more than 3300 homes across Australia, the average concentration of Radon was 10Bqm3 which is approximately 1/4 of the worlds indoor average.
Australia’s average Radon levels in homes is only a little higher than the average open air levels and are nominated as “of minimal concern to health”.
The highest levels of Radon across the eastern seaboard were identified in the Great Dividing Range (up to 30Bqm3) with significantly lower levels in homes around the coastal plains.
Survey mapping levels can be found at www.arpansa.gov.au/understanding-radiation
Based on the surveyed data from the Australian Government, Radon levels are as high in the natural air as they are in the large majority of our homes and where levels were identified as higher than normal, outdoor levels they were still nominated as not likely to cause any health issues.
If a Building Consultant attempts to sell you the need of a Radon Inspection with your next Victorian Building Inspection, maybe think twice about utilising his or her services.
You wouldn’t let anyone but a builder build your home. Why would you let anyone but a builder inspect it!