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This stuff can be deadly - it doesn't have to get to that

Monday, November 19, 2012   by: Darren Taylor

There may be a killer lurking in your home.

It’s called radon - a colourless, odourless gas that gets into your home, a gas that has been identified as a major cause of lung cancer.

November is Lung Cancer Awareness Month, and both Health Canada and the Lung Association are urging homeowners to get their homes tested for radon levels.

The good news is that radon levels can be reduced, and Soo Radon’s Don McEwen can help.

McEwen received his radon reduction training earlier this year from the Canadian and United States National Radon Proficiency Program (NRPP).

It’s the only agency recognized by Health Canada to perform radon testing in Canadian homes.

Speaking to, McEwen said he began testing Sault residences for radon in September.

Out of over 50 homes tested, McEwen says 75 percent of those had high radon levels.

McEwen explained: “Radon comes from uranium in the soil which breaks down into various forms, and by the time it gets into your house, it’s broken down into radon gas. That produces radiation and attaches to your lung tissue, causing lung cancer.”

What does radon testing involve?

Soo Radon will come to your home with a testing device, which is the size of a Kleenex box.

[Editor's note: Shown, as an example, is a radon testing kit from the National Institute of Health.]

McEwen said: “We’ll put the device in the lowest part of your house, like a downstairs bedroom or family room. We’ll find a spot to place the unit, away from the wall and vents, preferably on an end table. The device takes in normal air flow, we come back in a minimum of two days, sometimes three days, take it back to our local lab and check the results.”

“Radon reduction is fairly easy and can be done in one day,” McEwen stated.

McEwen says the reduction procedure involves drilling a spot in the concrete slab in the bottom of the home, inserting a pipe into that hole, and a fan attached to that pipe will extract the radon and blow it out of the home.

After two days have elapsed, Soo Radon will carry out a follow-up test with a digital monitor to make sure the newly installed system is functioning properly.

McEwen adds, “We have different types of devices that are put in place on the radon reduction system unit so that the homeowner can view it, to make sure its working.”

McEwen says cost for the testing procedure is usually $225, but in recognition of Lung Cancer Awareness Month, Soo Radon is offering tests at half price at $112.50.

What is the price tag for the radon reduction process, if your home’s radon levels are high?

The cost varies, McEwen said.

“It depends on the levels and what the homeowner wants. There are various options and they range anywhere from $200 to $2,500.  It would be $2,500 if we are in a house with a partial basement and partial crawl space, we would have to go and put down a vapour barrier blanket ... but 90 percent of the houses have a standard concrete basement, and that would cost $1,500.”

McEwen acknowledges there are ‘do-it-yourself’ radon testing kits that you can send away for, costing as little as $50.

However, McEwen says there is always room for error with a do-it-yourself kit.

“We use an ‘e-perm test.’ It’s the best in North America. You can get a kit for yourself, but they are affected by climatic changes. With our test we’ll know for sure if our radon levels are high.”

McEwen adds Soo Radon’s procedure has other another benefit along with total mitigation of radon in your home, and that is a basement with no musty smell at all.
McEwen says Health Canada’s high radon level is 200 Bq per metre cubed (for those of us who understand such mathematical terms), but notes at the same time Health Canada states “there is no safe level.”

In other words, McEwen urges people to have their homes tested for radon and have it blown out of the house, for healthy lungs and peace of mind.

McEwen and Soo Radon can be reached via this website or by telephone at 705-256-1496.

Note: Comments that appear on the site are not the opinion of If you see an abusive post, please click the link beside the post to report it.
Trinculo 11/19/2012 3:22:22 PM Report

or you can by a do it yourself kit from any hardware store for 15 bucks
jackie88 11/19/2012 3:34:34 PM Report

it sounds like scare tactics if 75% of the homes have it we should all be walking around with lung cancer cost is a money grab I think
blkpanther 11/19/2012 3:59:54 PM Report

I have tested for Radon throughout SSM and I am an Inspector. Not yet have I found unsafe levels around here.If you are concerned then do the testing for peace of mind.
Snowdon 11/19/2012 4:16:25 PM Report

Can't tell if jackie's comment is meant to be taken seriously.
JustMe1234567 11/19/2012 4:24:03 PM Report

Jackie- that isn't want the article said. He tested 50 homes and 75 per cent of those had radon.
dragongirl 11/19/2012 4:42:58 PM Report

What about the people that can not afford to have their homes tested, is it a "sucks to be them siutation'? and what about the people that rent their homes are the landlords going to be responsible for such testing?
JustMe1234567 11/19/2012 4:55:12 PM Report

Good point dragongirl, the government should pay for it!
DOMAR 11/19/2012 5:22:18 PM Report

Give me a break. Just another jackass scare tactic. No different then the polluted air we breathe everyday. Just built a home and had to put one of those idiot pipes in my slab. Instead of keeping the slab concealled I had to put a pipe so that the gas can be expelled out of the pipe into my home or into the atmosphere so everyone can breathe.What a joke!! Sure would love to me the clown who came up with this idea.
Zing 11/19/2012 5:23:13 PM Report

Is this paid advertising?
3rd times a charm 11/19/2012 5:25:10 PM Report

or you can buy a radon/fire detector and plug it in the wall...sounds like a cash grab to me...

Oh, btw, the 'government' paying for it is you and me and every other tax payer...
The Enigma 11/19/2012 5:28:59 PM Report

Actually JustMe1234567, it says that 75 percent of those tested had HIGH radon levels. Jackie's comment has some validity.
cenlo 11/19/2012 5:40:18 PM Report

I am the owner of Soo Radon and would like to address some of the comments.
Yes you can buy charcoal test kits at the hardware store (I think for under $30.00) they are fine (but are affected by humidity, which can hamper results) We use the e-perm system which if you look online runs about $60.00 for 1 test. We are providing a dual e-perm test currently for $112.50 (which is less than what you can buy it for) A dual side by side test allows us to authenticate the test results...eliminating the chance for error.

This is not a scare tactic....just go to Health Canada, the Canadian Lung Assoc, or the Canadian Cancer Society to verify all information.

I will respond to the other posts shortly (except maybe to the "DOMAR" post, as it didn't make alot of sense)
Working Man 11/19/2012 6:28:47 PM Report

Great, Let's all then buy radon test kits at Home Depot and run our dehumidifier for a couple days first to get rid of the humidity!

Sounds great!

I agree with your comment about DOMAR's comment.
cenlo 11/19/2012 7:34:25 PM Report

Plug-in radon monitors are not approved for usage in the usa or far.

In the USA (who have been testing for Radon in homes for over 25 yrs via the National Radon Proficiecy Program) and are the model in which the Canadian program was launched this spring have a radon recommended limit of 150 units. The World Health Organization recommends keeping home levels below 100 units. Health Canada has set the Canadian level at 200 units....but also states that there is no safe level of Radon Gas?

What is a high or elevated level?? If I test a home and the result is 130 units do I say that it is safe? What about 95 units?? Should I recommend repairs at 201 units and not at 199? It all depends on what you consider safe? (And I leave that up to each homeowner)

We provide a test and offer various recommendations to lower the concentration of Radon Gas in your home. We will also advise a homeowner on steps they can do themselves to save money.

As for the home inspector who has never seen elevated Radon levels in Sault Ste Marie.....I don't know what to say. To perform Radon testing you need to be C-NRPP certified (as per Health Canada)....and when I look on their website they have no one else listed in this area. You may find the measurement guidlines found on the C-NRPP website helpful.

If you are renting a lower level appt. or have a home you can't afford to test....keep an eye on the Algoma Public Health's website as discounted rates may become available.

thank you.........Don McEwen
wife 11/19/2012 7:35:49 PM Report

what do you do if you do not have a basement and can't afford the $2500 to have things fixed?
DOMAR 11/19/2012 8:55:06 PM Report

Mr Soo Radon owner. You can't respond to my comment because it's the truth and fact. Really what's the purpose of the radon pipe we have to put when we build a new home. Please give me a answer to this. I really would like to know as I'm sure many other people would like to know.
DOMAR 11/19/2012 8:59:12 PM Report

Working man I thought we called a truce last time.
junk 11/19/2012 9:05:13 PM Report

I think DOMAR is on to something... What is the purpose of putting a pipe in the slab to let the gas leak into the house? Might as well leave your front door unlocked for unexpected house guests to come over, sit on your couch, eat your snacks and watch your T.V. Now that smarts! Oh and I mean it velvet ears!
guestwho 11/20/2012 1:21:18 AM Report

it pays to live in a shack,leaky windows,doors,lots of fresh air,it`s the way of the future
LAWL 11/20/2012 7:07:46 AM Report

75% is totally false. One house tested on Queen st had notable radon levels. 90% of all homes tested have 0 radon. I install the radon test pipes in new homes. If 75% of homes had traceable radon we would be in a lot of trouble.
LAWL 11/20/2012 7:10:54 AM Report

Sault Ste. Marie is really not a place that radon gas is found. Elliot Lake on the other hand is a totally different story. A Radon gas removal system is needed in every home.
cenlo 11/20/2012 7:32:42 AM Report

All I can say is check out Health Canada's website to verify all information. are right!! traceable Radon is not found in 75% of SSM homes, it is found in 100%. Outside air contains approx. 20 units of Radon Gas.

The 4" pipe sleeve that you put in the ground when building is for a future Radon system. A fan is attached to that pipe and vented to the buildings exterior. (it's not blown into the house). This pipe sleeve costs about $10.00 to install when building and would save you a few hundred if you needed a future system. So for a $10.00 investment on a new house.....seems like a good idea.

Radon Gas does not stop at the US border and then start again in Elliot Lake.
DOMAR 11/20/2012 9:37:37 AM Report

That was my point cenlo. Leave the gas in the ground why give the gas any opportunity to escape thur the radon pipe and then vent it into the air we breath!!
Luc Lance 11/20/2012 10:23:46 AM Report

I would like to congratulate Don McEwen for making his services available in the Soo Area. Being involved in radon testing in Elliot Lake and area for over 35 years I cannot stress the importance of having your home tested for radon. Radon induced cancer has hit close to home with my father, who worked in the Uranium Mining industry died at the young age of 63 from this preventable disease. After testing hundreds of homes for radon gas I can assure you that many of them had elevated levels. The Health Canada 2012 Cross Canada Radon Survey Report (over 18000 homes were tested) noted that the District of Algoma Health Unit had an 8.6% failure rate for homes that tested above the recommended guideline for remediation of 200 Bq/m3.No matter where you live radon will be present at some level.
Exposure to high levels of radon can cause lung cancer. Reduce your risk and have your home tested. Contact Algoma Radon Testing for more information about radon.
Thanks to Soo Radon and the Algoma Health Unit for providing information about radon.
speed7 11/20/2012 11:05:45 PM Report

Radiation in the ground is a big problem that we never think of. In Toronto they found radiation levels very high in some neighbourhoods and people living in the area getting cancers at increased rates. Very sad how we treat mother nature so badly. Also nuclear power plants are monitored constantly look at a map in the USA compared to Canada. The nuclear plants are all over and we already know what happened in Japan with the tnsami disaster? Radiation travelled all the way to the pacific coast in Califonia as a result.
Note: Comments that appear on the site are not the opinion of If you see an abusive post, please click the link beside the post to report it.
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