Author Archives: Marcello Rocca

Alberta and Saskatchewan 2nd most radon-exposed populations on Earth claims latest research

Radon Gas

Radon levels in North American residential environments may be increasing

A University of Calgary-led study has found that the Western North American Prairie provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan are the 2nd most radon-exposed populations on Earth, just behind Poland.

The study generated many interesting findings, one of the most concerning being that radon levels in North American residential environments may be increasing, with newer homes being the most susceptible to rising radon levels. The study was based on testing 11,727 residential buildings throughout Alberta and Saskatchewan.

The study found that numerous property metrics contribute to indoor radon levels, including the year of construction, the size and building type of the home, ceiling heights, and the window opening behaviors of the occupants.

Keep your home free of harmful smoke particles with the help of HEPA


With the heat of Summer comes the threat of Forest Fires.

The Western regions of Canada go through a yearly danger zone of smoke that affects everyone, but in particular those with respiratory conditions, cardiovascular disease, and children.

The use of an Air Purifier may seem small, but finding the right one with a true HEPA filter can filter out the smoke particles and make your home a safe place to breath. These particles can be incredibly small, in between 0.4 and 0.7 microns which allow them to get themselves deep into your lungs. This also makes Dust Masks unreliable. A HEPA Air Purifier paired with a few small changes to your home is the best bet for keeping your air as breathable as possible.


Some Tips:

  • Best to install a Whole-House Air Cleaner with a true HEPA filter (removing down to 0.3 microns) with an appropriate area of effectiveness for your home or room.
  • Avoid Ozone or Ionic air purifiers, while they help with general air purification they will not remove the finer Smoke particles.
  • If you have an Air Conditioner, close off the fresh-air intake to prevent it from bringing in more smoke.
  • If you must go outside and want a mask to protect yourself in heavy smoke areas, find one that is NIOSH certified and marked N95, N100 or P100.
  • For a look at the current Smoke Forecast and areas that will be affected, you can view a live feed at Firesmoke.Ca. Remember always follow your Provincial Fire Bans, and never leave a flame unsupervised.

WHO Report – Radon as a health risk.

WHO report - Radon as a health risk

Radon as a health risk is a global problem that each year is estimated to cause around 230,000 cases of lung cancer.

The WHO’s latest report ‘Guidelines on Housing and Health’ describes how people’s housing and health are affected by a variety of factors. The report describes radon, among other factors, as a health risk. The report draws attention to the fact that radon should be regarded as a carcinogen on a par with tobacco smoke.

The harmful effects of radon are emphasised by, among other things, the WHO wanting to reduce the reference level for radon in home environments to 100 Bq/m³. That is one-third of the reference level established in Directive 2013/59/EURATOM, which is 300 Bq/m³.

Radon causes lung cancer

Radon as a health risk is a global problem that each year is estimated to cause around 230,000 cases of lung cancer, which has a high mortality rate. Radonova’s measurement expert José-Luis Gutiérrez Villanueva comments on the latest WHO report:

“It is important that radon is not singled out, but regarded as one pollutant among many. In this respect, the WHO’s report is clear and important. The report describes the harmful effects of radon, as well as how preventive measures can be used to reduce harmful radon levels. Bearing in mind the fact that radon causes a very high number of lung cancer cases, it is vital to speak plainly about this issue.

“While radon is a global problem, the WHO’s report makes it clear that radon needs to be tackled at national level. In order to be effective, each country needs a well-developed programme that can be adapted to the circumstances in each case.”

José-Luis Gutiérrez Villanueva has worked on radon issues for the last 15 years. He wrote his PhD on ‘Radon concentrations in soil, air and water in a granitic area: instrumental development and measurements’ (University of Valladolid, 2008), and is an expert in areas including data analysis and different ways of measuring radon. As secretary of the European Radon Association, José-Luis also has extensive experience of international work with radon.


Radon Gas, Canadianized . . .


As uranium begins its cyclical decay chain in Canadian soil, homes on the surface act like a suction cup and draw in its deadly by-product: radon.

Odourless, colourless and tasteless, radon gas is just one domino in a radioactive cascade that enters structures new and old across the country, contributing to more than 3,300 lung cancer deaths per year.

“It’s the worst thing no one’s ever heard of,” said Anne-Marie Nicol, associate professor at Simon Fraser University’s Faculty of Health Sciences in Burnaby, BC.

As a public health researcher, much of Nicol’s work focuses on environmental carcinogens, specifically radon–the second leading cause of lung cancer in Canada.

“We’ve kind of shrugged this off as a smoker’s condition, but if fewer people are smoking we’re realizing there are other things that cause lung cancer as well,” said Nicol.

The latest technologies in radon remediation and mitigation offer a means to end the reign of this silent killer in homes and buildings.

Health Risks . . .

Canada is the world’s second largest producer of uranium–its soil so rich in the metal that there is always a measureable amount of radon in the air.

Outside, it dissipates and mixes with other gases, so concentrations drop to relatively harmless levels, ranging from 10 Becquerels–a measurement of radioactivity–per cubic metre (Bq/m³) to 30.

Inside, however, those levels can vary drastically from one structure to another.

Radon exists, on average, three to four days in an indoor environment before it decays, at which point it gives off radioactive alpha particles in addition to progeny, or “radon daughters.” The metal progeny “stick” to the sensitive lining of the lungs, further decaying and emitting radiation.

“People call radon radioactive, but it’s actually the decaying process that causes the problem,” Nicol said.
In 2007, Health Canada reduced its guideline for radon in indoor air from 800 Bq/m³ to 200. Comparably, the World Health Organization recommends a 100 Bq/m³ baseline, and the U.S. standard sits at 150.

Radon Gas causes more deaths than cars, say cancer prevention advocates


November is “Radon Action Month.” Scientists say radon is the leading cause of lung cancer among non-smokers.

To kick off November’s Radon Action Month, the Canadian Cancer Society, the Canadian Association of Radon Scientists and Technologists (CARST) and CAREX Canada are launching Plan to be Here: an initiative that aims to raise awareness about the cancer risks associated with radon and the importance of having homes tested.

“Many Canadians are unaware that radon is the leading cause of lung cancer in non-smokers,” says Pam Warkentin, Executive Director of CARST and Project Manager, Take Action on Radon. “Just as it’s now second nature for Canadians to buckle their seat-belts and change the batteries in their smoke detectors, we need to encourage people to take action to reduce their cancer risk and test their homes for radon.”

“Radon is a radioactive gas that is present in the air and can accumulate in high concentrations in homes, the news release continues. “Long-term exposure to high levels of radon damages the DNA in our lung tissue and can lead to increased lung cancer risk.” According to Health Canada, over 1 million Canadian homes have high radon levels

How do HRV and ERV Systems Work?

Air Exchanger airflow

What is an Air Exchanger?

An Air Exchanger otherwise known as an HRV (Heat Recovery Ventilator) or an ERV (Energy Recovery Ventilator), is a whole house mechanical ventilation system. It is typically connected to your existing furnace return duct and contains two high-efficiency motors. The supply motor draws fresh air in from the outside while the exhaust motor pushes stale indoor contaminated air outside. The two airstreams never mix when passing through the HRV or ERV cores. 

What is the difference between an HRV and an ERV?

In an HRV, the two air steams are separated by a heat recovery core, which will transfer only heat energy. In the winter, the warm indoor air passes through the HRV core as it’s being exhausted and warms up the incoming fresh outside air. In the summer, the cycle is reversed and the cool indoor air cools down the hot outdoor air recovering the energy. HRV’s will control excess humidity in cooler seasons by introducing outdoor air into your home.

In an ERV, the two air streams are separated by an energy recovery core, which will transfer both heat and moisture energy. In the winter, the warm indoor air passes through the ERV core as it’s being exhausted and warms up the incoming fresh outside air. As well, it will redirect approximately 50% of the indoor moisture back into your home. In the summer, the cycle is reversed and the cool indoor air cools down the hot outdoor air recovering the energy. In addition the ERV will redirect approximately 50% of the outdoor moisture (humidity) back outdoors. Thus, ERV’s are a better choice in all but the most northern climates for providing year-round comfort.

Benefits of Air Exchangers:

  • Air Exchangers bring a continuous supply of fresh outside air into your
  • Air Exchangers exhaust environmental contaminants for improved indoor air quality.
  • Air Exchangers save energy in the winter by recovering heat from exhaust air.
  • Air Exchangers save energy in the summer by recovering cool indoor air from exhaust air.
  • Air Exchangers help prevent mould and mildew.
  • Air Exchangers help minimize odours and cooking residue.
  • Air Exchangers can reduce harmful Radon Gas levels where active soil depressurization is unlikely to be successful.