Radon – What is it and where does it come from?

updated 28 May 2021

The recent interest in the radon health concern has resulted in some questions about radon’s origins. As we know, there is a concern about radioactive radon gas in dwellings, especially those in the Canadian Shield, such as those at Chandos.  Where does this radon come from?  This note attempts to be a bit of a primer on the subject.

The decay of uranium-238 into the radioactive gas radon-222.

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Radon at Chandos

updated May 21, 2021

Radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer, after smoking, but is first amongst non-smokers. Radon is a byproduct of the natural decay of uranium, which is a common element in the Canadian Shield. It is a radioactive gas that seeps up from the ground and enters the dwelling though cracks in concrete, open crawl spaces, and even through the water supply from a well. A well-ventilated dwelling may dilute the radon to a safe level, but a “tight” dwelling will allow it to accumulate and build up to hazardous levels.

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Trent River Watershed Flow Chart

Here is an interesting flowchart showing how all the TSW lakes are connected.

Note that area lakes Jack, Anstruther, and Eels are all TSW reservoir lakes.

It is true that Chandos Lake flows into the Crowe River, and that the Crowe River eventually enters the Trent River near Campbellford. There is a dam on the Crowe River at Marmora, that primarily controls the level of Crowe Lake. The operation of this dam has negligible effect on Chandos because the difference in elevations is about 130 metres, and between Chandos Lake and Crowe Lake there are many natural areas (wetlands, etc), to store water.

Flat Creek returns to normal flow out of Chandos April 3, 2021

The following is a post to the CLPOA facebook page….

Following up on Iain’s post of April 2, 2021 where he reports that the flow along Flat Creek is into the lake: –It seems as of April 3, the reverse flow has “reversed” and is back to a normal outflow from the lake. On March 25, the lake level was 1026′ 3″. The first log was pulled out of the Paudash dam on that day, with a log being pulled on March 26 and March 28. The Chandos lake level peaked around April 1 just over 1027′, and as of 3 April it is about 1027′ 0″. In 2020 the peak of 1027′ 6″ occurred about April 6. Unless there are some really crazy rains in the next week or so, we have likely passed our peak water for 2021.

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Chandos is rising!

From March 25 to March 30 Chandos has risen 7″. As reported earlier, water is flowing in from Flat Creek. It is still in reverse mode today, although it was a bit hard to tell as the wind was going straight north, thereby opposing the flow coming south, which created surface wavelets that appeared to be going in the direction of the wind. However, the flowmeter indicated about 0.5 m/sec flow into Chandos.

I confirmed with the CVCA that they had pulled logs from the dam on three days -the 25th, 26th, and the 28th. They believe Paudash has now peaked and they don’t expect to remove any more logs, unless there is a lot of rain.

Environment Canada Gauge Real time Data

Just north of Glen Alda on the Crowe River, Environment Canada operates a Water monitoring Station 02HK005. The results are available in real time on line. Here is a typical graph for the last 15 days:

(see https://wateroffice.ec.gc.ca/report/real_time_e.html?stn=02HK005&mode=Graph&startDate=2021-03-15&endDate=2021-03-29&prm1=46&y1Max=&y1Min=&prm2=47&y2Max=&y2Min=)

It is obvious that the flow and level have significantly increased in the last couple of days. The question, which I will attempt to determine, is “has the CVCA taken logs out of the dam at Paudash, or is this totally due to rain and spring melt? ” (suspect both).

The CVCA operate a gauge at the culverts, but I am always wary of the data. The principle of the gauge is to estimate mass flow from the level. However, in a creek that reverses, this type of gauge is inadequate.