Radon is still something that has not had widespread recognition. Many people and businesses do not know what it is, or what it does.
Radon is a radioactive gas that is formed naturally by the breakdown of uranium in soil, rock and water. As a gas, radon is slowly released from the ground, water, and some building materials that contain very small amounts of uranium, such as concrete, bricks, tiles and gypsum. Radon gas breaks down further into forms that can be breathed into the lungs.
The Health Canada guideline say that measures should be undertaken in a dwelling or business, whenever the average radon concentration exceeds 200 becquerels per cubic metre (200 Bq/m³) in the normal occupancy area. The higher the radon concentration, the sooner remedial measures should be undertaken.
Radon gas in the air, can be breathed into the lungs. This is where the gas particles breakdown further and emit "alpha particles". Alpha particles release small bursts of energy which are absorbed by nearby lung tissue. This results in damage to the lung cell, which could develop into more severe conditions, including cancer.
New technologies to measure and mitigate radon are rapidly being developed. Any business or home owners can purchase a simple radon testing device to get preliminary data on if they are at risk within the current guidelines.
So what does this all mean for your business?
It depends highly on the industry you work in. If you are in the construction industry, both guidelines and code changes regarding radon will affect the way that you construct buildings and foundations. Also, for every company, it is important to stay ahead of the curve in terms keeping your employees safe. As a result, it is a good idea to put at minimum, a radon policy or procedure within your companies Health and Safety Management System.
Magnolias is working with clients to both develop these procedures and manage new regulations and code requirements in industry. Once processes and awareness initiatives are put in place about the issues and causes of radon gas, then appropriate measurement and mitigation efforts can be taken to minimize any exposure.