Polar Plumbing increasing radon awareness

Polar Plumbing & Heating customer service representative Ashley Taylor, owner and manager Gord Titchkosky and sales representative Dylan Neufeld were answering questions about radon at Polar Plumbing's Radon Information Day on November 7. (LAUREN MACGILL, Morden Times)

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Southern Manitoba is a hotbed for radon, and a local company is doing their part to spread information about the gas.

Polar Plumbing & Heating held a Radon Information Day at their Morden location on November 7, inviting the public to come in and have their questions about radon answered.

Radon is a naturally occurring gas that is created when uranium in the ground breaks down. Radon works its way through the ground and can enter into homes and buildings through various openings in basements.

Since radon is colourless, odorless and tasteless, the only way to find it in your home is by testing.

As part of their information day, Polar Plumbing gave away some long-term tests to customers. “There are short-term tests that you can do and they can give you some indication of what might be going on in your home, but due to fluctuations in levels and so forth, it’s important to long-term testing to really know what’s happening,” Polar Plumbing & Heating owner and manager Gord Titchkosky said.

Health Canada recommends that testing for radon takes place over a long-term basis from a minimum of ninety days to up to a year.

While there is no ‘safe’ level of radon in a home, Health Canada has devised a cut-off that determines the risk is low enough. That number is 200 Becquerels per cubic meter.

Titchkosky said Manitoba has one of the highest rates of radon in Canada. “We can break that down further and say that Southern Manitoba is the worst area in Manitoba,” he said. “It’s very prevalent in our area, percentage wise much higher than the national average.”

If testing finds a high level of radon, there are a few things that can be done to deal with it. Titchkosky said anything from sealing openings in the ground to installing proper ventilation can work.

“The absolute best way to deal with high levels of radon in a home is through something called sub-slab depressurization,” he said. “That’s basically drawing air from underneath your basement and creating a negative pressure under your basement, capturing it before it enters your home and sending it outside.”

November is Radon Action Month, and Titchkosky said Polar Plumbing has been trying to inform the public about the gas and the potential health risks, which can include an increased risk of lung cancer.

“We’re just trying to create more awareness about radon,” he said. “One of the biggest things that we find is that people aren’t aware of it and don’t know what it is and what the risks are. We’re trying to just help do our part in that, and create awareness among the public and make sure people understand what it is and what the risks are.”

Thanks to events like Radon Action Month and work done by Polar Plumbing and other companies in the area, Titchkosky said awareness about radon has been increasing.

“When we started in this, very few people had even heard about radon and what it was,” he said. “There were a lot of questions. Now we’re finding more and more people have heard about radon. They don’t necessarily fully understand it, so now it’s about educating people on what the risks are and how to deal with that.”