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The Canary Radon Monitor

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The Canary

The Canary Radon Meter

The Canary is a digital radon monitor that measures Radon gas in your environment over a period of a day, a week, and cumulative data for the year. It is easy to use and gives you almost instant feedback, unlike many measurement systems in use, which can take months to give you the information you want.

The Canary is developed in Norway with the support from The Norwegian Research Council and researchers and developers from CERN in Geneva, the University of Oslo, and the Norwegian University for Science and Technology.

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Further information on the Canary and Radon

Technical specifications

  • Radon Sampling Method: Passive radon diffusion chamber
  • Radon Detection Method:
      » Alpha spectroscopy based on silicon photo-diode with a continuous alpha energy histogram. The energy histogram is the basis for the algorithms calculating the short and long terms radon concentrations.
  • Sensitivity
      » 1-day short term measurement - ~1.3 counts/hour @ 100Bq/ m³
      » 7-day long term measurement - ~0.3 counts/hour @ 100Bq/ m³
  • Precision
      » Short term (7 days)<20% after 1 week @ 100Bq/ m³
      » Long term <10% after 1 month @ 100Bq/ m³
  • Accuracy : ±5%
  • Power source: 3x AAA batteries (> 2.5 year battery lifetime with average use)
  • Power draw: <250 mW
  • Size (mm): 120 x 69 x 22.5 (LxWxD)
  • Weight: 130g, including batteries
  • Operating Environment: Temperature: 0°C to +40°C : Relative Humidity <95%
  • Measuring range:
    • 0 (lower detection limit)
    • 9999 Bq/m³ (upper display limit)
    • 35000 Bq/m³ (upper instrument limit)
  • Data storage (instrument)
    • 1 hour time-resolution: 7 days
    • 2 hour time-resolution: up to 80 days
    • 24 hour time-resolution: 80 weeks

The Canary Radon Monitor is an enormous improvement in radon measurement technology, giving amazingly accurate easy to read measurements over 1 day, 7 days and over one year. Compared to traditional technology, the monitor can easily be moved around the building, in order to get the full overview of the levels of radon in the home, the workplace, the school or in the kindergarten.

Key facts from the World Health Organisation:

  • The largest study of radon, published in 2004, showed that the gas causes 20,000 deaths from lung cancer in the European Union each year. Worldwide, radon causes about a million deaths every decade.
  • Radon is estimated to cause between 3% and 14% of all lung cancers, depending on the average radon level in a country. Radon is more likely to cause lung cancer in people who smoke, and is the primary cause of lung cancer among non-smokers.
  • Radon-induced lung cancers are mainly caused by low and moderate radon concentrations, because of the large number of people exposed.

Radon has been termed one of the worst environmental pollutants. It is an invisible, odourless gas that seeps out of the ground and causes an estimated 1,100 deaths from lung cancer in the UK every year. In 2010 the number of UK homes designated at risk was increased five-fold (from 100,000 to between 500,000 and 600,000), rendering millions more people officially vulnerable.

Radon is a naturally occurring radioactive gas produced by the decay of uranium 238, which is concentrated in parts of the country rich in granite. In the open air, radon causes no problems. We all breathe it in and for most of us, radon accounts for half of our total annual radiation dosage. It can seep into buildings through cracks and holes in the foundations, where it can build up to dangerous levels. What makes it dangerous is that, being odourless and colourless, it is easy to ignore. Professor Sir Richard Peto, the renowned cancer epidemiologist, once remarked: "If only it were blue and people could see it they would take it seriously, but unfortunately it isn't."

uk radon

For home owners this means creating a "radon sump" and installing a fan and pipe to blow the gas to the outside. Grants are available towards the cost of remedial work, but many owners decline to have their homes tested or to do the work.

Public Health England (PHE) recommends that radon levels should be reduced in homes where the average is more than 200 becquerels per cubic metre (200 Bq m³). This recommendation has been endorsed by the UK Government. The Target Level of a maximum of 100 Bq m³ is the aim of remediation works in existing buildings and protective measures in new buildings. If the result of a radon assessment is between the Target and Action Levels, action to reduce the level should be seriously considered, especially if there is a smoker or ex-smoker in the home.

PHE has also published a really excellent "interactive map". On the page, click on "Explore the Interactive Map" button. Make sure that you turn on both the radon results data display and the legend by clicking the two buttons - otherwise you will just see an ordinary map with no radon data.

All types of remedial measure can last much more than 10 years, but some measures have been found to fail in less than 5 years. Public Health England advises that homes should be re-tested every 5-10 years.

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