This is a question that is often asked during a home inspection. The short answer is yes; however there are two types of testing available, which one should you use and rely on?
The following are two extracts from a Health Canada article on Radon:
- Radon is a gas produced naturally by the breakdown of uranium in soils and rocks that occurs naturally in the environment. You can’t see, smell or taste radon.
- When radon gas escapes from the ground outdoors it gets diluted and does not pose a health risk. However, in some confined spaces, like homes, radon can accumulate to relatively high levels and become a health hazard.
Since you are looking for accumulation of the gas in your home (basement) the testing should be done over extend period, 2 to 3 months, and should be done when there is little to no ventilation taking place, winter months. This type of testing will give you a reliable result.
The quick test offered by some home inspection services does not provide a reliable result. If the reading is high, then action should be taken; however if the reading is low this does not mean that there isn’t a problem. It just means at that one point in time the reading was OK. If this one time Radon test is done during warm weather the windows in the basement may have been opened on a regular base or if done during colder weather the basement may have been aired out by the seller in order to eliminate any odors that may affect the sale of the house. Either of these situations will give a false sense of well being to the new home owner as the one-time test will likely show low radon readings.
As a home owner you can either hire a person qualified to do radon testing over an extended period or purchase a testing kit from a drug store or home improvement store and do the extended test yourself during the winter months or any other time the basement is not ventilated.