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Environmental Services Group is an environmental consulting firm that performs testing for radon in the Greater Toronto Area.
There are two general ways to test for radon:
The Short Term
If the client is in a hurry we can test a building with short term testing methods. Short-term tests remain in the location for two days to 90 days, depending on the device. Because radon levels tend to vary from day to day and season to season, a short-term test is less likely than a long-term test to tell you the year-round average radon level. If you need results quickly, however, a short-term test followed by a second short-term test may be used to decide whether more appropriate action need to be undertaken.
The Long Term
If the customer is not in an immediate hurry we can also offer long term tests. Long-term tests remain in the building for more than 90 days. "Alpha track" and "Electret" detectors are commonly used for this type of testing. A long-term test will give you a reading that is more likely to tell you the year-round average radon level than a short-term test.What is Radon?
You can't see radon. And you can't smell it or taste it. But it may be a problem in your home or business. Radon is estimated to cause many thousands of deaths each year. That's because when you breathe air containing radon, you can get lung cancer. In fact, the Surgeon General of the United States has warned that radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States. Only smoking causes more lung cancer deaths.
Radon comes from the natural (radioactive) breakdown of uranium in soil, rock and water and gets into the air you breathe. Radon can be found all over the U.S. and Canada. It can get into any type of building - homes, offices, and schools - and result in a high indoor radon level. You are more likely to receive the most exposure at home, as that is where that majority of people spend the most time.How Does Radon Get into a building?
Radon is a radioactive gas. It comes from the natural decay of uranium that is found in nearly all soils. It typically moves up through the ground to the air above and into a building through cracks and other holes in the foundation. Buildings trap radon inside, where it can build up. Any building may have a radon problem. This means new and old buildings, well-sealed and drafty buildings, and buildings and homes with or without basements. Radon from soil gas is the main cause of radon problems. Sometimes radon enters the home through well water. In a small number of buildings, the building materials can give off radon, too. However, building materials rarely cause radon problems by themselves.
Radon gets inside through:
Radon in Water (Residential):
There are two main sources for the radon in a home's indoor air, the soil and the water supply. Compared to radon entering a home through water, radon entering a home through the soil is usually a much larger risk. The radon in a water supply poses an inhalation risk and an ingestion risk. Research has shown that the risk of lung cancer from breathing radon in air is much larger than your risk of stomach cancer from swallowing water with radon in it. Most of the risk from radon in water comes from radon released into the air when water is used for showering and other household purposes. Radon in a home's water is not usually a problem when its source is surface water. A radon in water problem is more likely when its source is ground water, e.g. a private well or a public water supply system that uses ground water. If you are concerned that radon may be entering your home through the water and your water comes from a public water supply, contact your water supplier.
The Risk of Living and working with Radon
Radon gas decays into radioactive particles that can get trapped in your lungs when you breathe. As they break down further, these particles release small bursts of energy. This can damage lung tissue and lead to lung cancer over the course of your lifetime. Not everyone exposed to elevated levels of radon will develop lung cancer. And the amount of time between exposure and the onset of the disease may be many years.