Oakville Homes

February 24, 2011

Who do you believe – the builder or Health Canada?


Awhile back, I tested my home for RADON and got a bill of health on that point.  At least my Mattamy home isn’t bad that way, although you should see what we are finding while doing a bathroom reno (leaking).

As late as November, 2010, Health Canada put out an advisory that you should test your home for radon.  Why?

“At just the end of last year, Canada’s Minister of Health, Leona Aglukkaq, released a statement to the press implying that at the end of their first year of conducting the survey, it had become apparent that many Canadians are in danger from excessive radon levels in their homes. The number of homes across Canada with unsafe radon levels is 7% so far, which is much higher than the government had originally predicted.” LINK

Now 7% doesn’t sound like much does it.  Try and increase the taxes by that much and you’ll see a different perspective on that number.

For those living in homes with basements ( I guess the hi-rise Condo owners are out of the woods on this one),  we have always been told that cracks in the basement are normal and a part of the settling of the home.  Of course, we are all nervous about cracks in the basement floor, especially if you decide to cover them.  How do you monitor if they are getting larger and, you only find out about them leaking when your carpet is a bit mushy and smells?

But, here we have Health Canada stating the following about RADON:

“In the open air, the gas doesn’t pose a health risk.  But it can enter a home through dirt floors, cracks in concrete, joints and basement drains. In enclosed spaces such as basements, the gas can reach levels harmful to health”. 

Further, they recommend that you :

  • Increase the ventilation to allow an exchange of air.
  • Seal all cracks and openings in foundation walls and floors, and around pipes and drains.
  • Renovate existing basement floors, particularly earth floors.
  • Install a radon removal system using a fan and piping to draw the radon from under the home and expel it outside. This is typically done by a contractor and is the most common and effective method of reducing radon levels.

So, on one hand, you have builders like Mattamy saying don’t worry about the cracks and that if they get to a certain size, they will deal with it.  They seem to be concerned about water but, as we know, RADON is colourless, tasteless, odourless and undetectable to a person unless tested with the right equipment.  We know that Mattamy and other builders probably don’t install removal systems so, who do we believe?

Someone that wants to save money and make a profit or, the Federal government? 

Well, I hate to say it but, we know both can have problems with credibility but, it appears we are playing Russian Roulette with our health here.

How bad can it be? 

“Last year, lung cancer claimed the lives of 20,500 Canadians. It’s estimated that about 10 per cent of lung cancer deaths are related to long-term exposure to residential radon,” Canadian Lung Association president Heather Borquez” said in the release.

From a lawyers point of view, the number is probably well within acceptable death standards for the building industry.

So, next time your builder, like Mattamy, tells you not to worry about the cracks, see what they say when you bring up the RADON word.

Like many of the complaints you have read about here in this blog, Mattamy and some other builders will probably shrug it off.  They can wait for you to die from the RADON

Cheaper that way. 

And, as we know, Peter Gilgan probably gets a tax deduction and free publicity when he donates money to the hospital – maybe he should direct it to the Cancer ward. 

P.S.  I do applaud the donation but I do question the possible strings attached.



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