Researchers from the University of Calgary recently published a research paper that shows radon exposure is higher in rural areas than in urban areas. The research shows that people living in rural, lower population density communities experience as much as 31.2% greater average residential radon levels relative to urban equivalents, equating to an additional 26.7 Becquerel unit (Bq/m3) excess in geometric mean indoor air radon, and an additional 1 mSv/year in excess alpha radiation exposure dose rate to the lungs for occupants.

The research was based on the examination of radon exposure disparities across the urban-to-rural landscape, based on 42,051 Canadian residential properties in 2034 distinct communities.

Radon is an invisible, odourless, tasteless and radioactive gas. Naturally rising from under the ground and diluting to virtually nothing in outdoor air, radon gas is often drawn up and concentrated inside modern buildings to unnaturally high and cancer-causing levels. Repetitive, long-term inhalation of radioactive radon gas is one of the leading causes of lung cancer, with exposure differences being a function of geographic location, built environment, personal demographics, activity patterns, and decision-making.

The Becquerel unit, abbreviated Bq/m3: is named after the scientist Henri Becquerel. The preferred radon level measurement unit is Becquerels per cubic meter, Bq/m3. One Becquerel equals one radioactive disintegration per second. Radon levels measured at less than 50 Bq/m3 are considered extremely low, and no immediate health risks are associated. If radon levels are above 100 Bq/m over a period of three months, a professional radon mitigation contractor should be consulted.

The Government of Canada has a Radon Reduction Guide that provides information on how to reduce exposure to radon. The guide recommends mitigation measures to reduce radon levels if they are higher than the Canadian Guideline of 200 (Bq/m3. The most effective mitigation measure is sub-slab depressurization (also called active soil depressurization). It is also the most common method used by C-NRPP certified professionals. This method involves installing a pipe through the foundation floor slab and attaching a fan that runs continuously to draw the radon gas from below the home and release it into the outdoors where it is quickly diluted. This system also reverses the air pressure difference between the house and soil, reducing the amount of radon that is drawn into the home through the foundation.