“The City of West Vancouver, District of North Vancouver & City of North Vancouver will all require Step 5 – which has the highest air tightness – as of July 1, 2021, the first municipalities in Canada to do so.” Studies show very energy efficient homes draw in more radon unless there is mitigation. There is no mandatory radon rough-in / mitigation in these municipalities, which have tested for high radon levels in some areas. The BC govt has pushed the Step Code allowing municipalities to adopt the highest steps, without radon mitigation. This is shaping up to be leaky condo part 2, with more toxic/dangerous consequences.     

The Canadian Association of Radon Scientists and Technicians (www.carst.ca) held a conference in April 2021 featuring the latest presentations and data on radon, including:

21st Century Radon Exposure: Much of What We Thought We Knew, is No Longer True evictradon.org

“In Canada, it has now been unequivocally demonstrated that residential radon gas has increased steadily over time due to our ever changing built environment, both in terms of overall exposure concentrations and the duration of exposure throughout a year. We also find that younger Canadians are being disproportionately exposed to higher radon, as a consequence of occupancy biases within the built environment. This has worsened significantly during the COVID-19 pandemic in Canada, and it remains to be seen whether this elevated risk will return to pre-pandemic levels. Based on all this new information, radon-attributable lung cancer risks are being re-assessed within Canada, and machine-learning based projections of Canadian radon in 2050 paint an alarming picture of rising exposure and younger ages of radon-induced lung cancer diagnosis.”

Canadian Contractor magazine story “Unintended Consequences – the quest for energy efficient homes could be killing Canadians.”

The BC govt launched their Step Code before National Building Code has completed diligence on more energy efficiency in new homes. Radon has been identified as a large concern because studies show more eneregy efficient homes, without proper mitigation, draw in more radon. This has been outlined in a National Building Code memo. 

We did a column on this here. 

Here is a story about a Salt Spring family that discovered high levels of radon in their home. 

After BC launched their Step Code, they changed their radon map to include communities like Duncan, now requiring mandatory radon mitigation for new homes. This early adoption of Step Code puts the cart before the horse and is a prescription for unintended consequences – in this case, lung cancer – radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer in Canada. Dr. Anne-Marie Nicol, BC Lung Association said recently on CFAX – Tony Joe’s Whole Home Show that there has been insufficient radon testing on southern Vancouver Island. Every home has some amount of radon and just how much can be site specific. An example is West Vancouver where very high levels of radon have been identified in some homes, and not in others. The BC govt has not included West Vancouver as a high radon area requiring foundation preparation/mitigation. Just after BC launched Step Code, the District of West Vancouver leaped immediately into Step 3, bypassing Steps 2 & 3. Sooke is now planning to do the same.

It’s clear elecetd officials and bureaucrats are fast-tracking energy efficiency and undermining the purpose of a building code – health and safety. This was done in the past with leaky condo, govt subsidized asbestos insulation and urea formaldehyde. New homes today are reasonably eneregy efficient – most GHG loss is in millions of older Canadian homes. Any changes to the building code, including Step Code and Net Zero, must be done responsibly, in real steps, not leaps, and attention first paid to health and safety.

Municipalities in Greater Victoria adopting Step Code are Saanich, Victoria, Oak Bay, Central Saanich, North Saanich and soon in Sooke and Colwood. Langford, Metchosin, View Royal, Esquimalt have determined it is too risky and costly.

For more on Step Code read BC Step Code a Misstep.