Radon Gas in Alberta Homes

I Love Edmonton Real Estate
I Love Edmonton Real Estate
Radon Gas in Alberta Homes

Our guests today from RE/MAX Elite are Kelly Dann and Craig Pilgrim. They’re here to talk about the issue of radon gas, which has existed in Alberta for a long time but doesn’t get talked about as extensively as it should.

[0:45] Can you explain what the concern is about?

  • It generally doesn’t pose a problem because it dissipates quite quickly in air, but because of the way we build our homes, radon gas can be concentrated in them.
  • These levels can result in health concerns such as lung cancer.
  • When homes are sealed during winter, there’s more potential for radon gas to build up.
  • It’s second only to smoking as a lung cancer cause.

[4:51] As realtors, what are you doing in terms of educating your clients?

  • We are reaching out to our past clients as far back as six years ago. We’re providing testing for them.

[5:43] Let’s say I’m a buyer. How do I know if a house I’m interested in could have problems with radon gas?

  • The only thing you can do is to have your realtor ask the selling agent if the house has been tested.
  • Health Canada believes that only long-term tests which last at least 90 days are accurate.

[7:11] Has the Real Estate Council of Alberta come out with guidelines for realtors?

  • They have provided bulletins for industry members.
  • They’ve also given us checklists that we can discuss with both buyers and sellers.
  • It’s mandatory to disclose any known defects of a house, but this doesn’t mean that the seller has to do radon testing.
  • We are telling buyers that they need to be aware of radon and how it can affect their health. We tell them they can ask the seller if they’ve done the testing, and if they haven’t, request that they do so.

[11:18] If I’m a buyer and want to buy a house from people who haven’t done radon testing, I can see how it could slow down transactions.

  • We’ve been discussing getting the seller to test, and then when our clients move in, we’ll test the radon pack again. We might have to see if we can do a holdback if the concentration levels come in at a certain amount.

[12:44] If you discover you have a house with radon, how do you solve the problem?

  • The method that we are pursuing is the heat recovery ventilation (HRV) system.
  • They have several additional benefits, such as heating savings.
  • There’s also the slab depressurization system, where piping is installed under the slab and connected to a fan.

[14:48] This is far less of an issue in condos, right?

  • That’s what we thought.
  • Our broker is aware of several condo corporations that are considering the installation of systems to mitigate radon.

[15:53] To put it in context, radon ranks up there with mustard gas as a cancer-causing agent.

  • What’s most disturbing to me is the visual. Particles of radon go into my lung tissue, they continue to deteriorate, and as they deteriorate, they give out blasts of radiation that are stronger than a dental x-ray.

[17:34] Do you have an idea of what percentage of homes in Edmonton might be exposed to this?

  • No idea, because there hasn’t been enough testing yet.

[19:29] Where can people get the tests?

  • Any hardware store, and they cost around $30-$50. The price includes getting them sent off to be examined.

Craig Pilgrim, Associate Broker

Kelly Dann, Associate Broker