New from Norway

The Canary Digital Radon Detector. The Canary is battery powered, about the size of a large cell-phone and can be easily placed in a test space. It uses a sensitive, electronic element to “actively” detect radon gas and display measurements in real-time. It was developed by Norwegian scientists and is manufactured in Norway by Corentium.

The Canary Digital Radon Detector. The Canary is battery powered, about the size of a large cell-phone and can be easily placed in a test space. It uses a sensitive, electronic element to “actively” detect radon gas and display measurements in real-time. It was developed by Norwegian scientists and is manufactured in Norway by Corentium.

New Norwegian technology allows for quick and easy at-home radon tests

John Erik Stacy

Seattle, Wash.

Norwegians are well aware of insidious health danger of naturally occurring radon gas. Radon can seep from the earth into homes and work-places, and the buildings of Norway – often built into living rock and well insulated against the winds of winter – are especially vulnerable. No surprise then that Norway is at the forefront of radon testing.

Perhaps the leading innovator in the field, Oslo-based Corentium has launched the Canary radon testing device. The device is both affordable – having sold many thousand units directly to home owners – and superior to other products on the market in almost every way. Corentium has marketed the Canary in Norway and more recently in the rest of Europe. The devices are both developed and produced in Norway. The Weekly interviewed marketing manager Halvor Wøien at Corentium to learn more:

What makes Canary different from other radon tests?

There are basically two main categories for radon measurement devices: passive or active.

The passive devices are typically simple technologies like charcoal canisters or alpha track films. These are devices that may be deployed by the homeowner, but have to be send away for analysis in specialized laboratories. They have to be exposed for at least two months to give a valid result, and provide an average radon value for the exposure period. If showing too high values and mitigation have to be done, the long measurement procedures have to be repeated to see if the mitigation have had any effect.

The active devices require power to function, and are digital devices that monitor the indoor air continuously. This group of devices mainly consists of expensive monitors used by professionals. Our Canary belongs to this group of devices, but the Canary is designed to be handled by the ordinary homeowners and is affordable to most of them. It is run on batteries that last up to three years, and show long-term average, as well as one week and one day averages.

So it is much faster than film – what is a typical time necessary for a good measurement?

Yes, the measuring process will usually be shorter – but also much more flexible. With a Canary, you can make a diagnostic of your house by measuring the most used rooms for let’s say a week each. Then you do a more long term monitoring of the room with the highest radon level. With the Canary you also easily check the effect of your own mitigation measures, for instance increased ventilation. Also, the Canary monitors continuously, so you may just leave it on and checking it regularly. The batteries last for almost three years.

Are the people that buy Canary professional “testers” or “normal folks?”

The Canary is made primarily for normal folks, and most of the customers are ordinary homeowners. With the Canary you become a tester yourself, and you may avoid hiring a radon consultant. But we also sell to Municipalities, kindergartens, schools and construction companies. We are now in the market also with ‘Canary pro.’ As the name indicates, it is designed more for the large users. The radon history can at any time be downloaded wireless to a computer, and the software can analyze and report the radon level. The pro is particularly useful for measuring the radon level during particular time periods, let’s say for example 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday to Friday when people are present in the building – like children in a kindergarten or employees at a workplace. You can easily define the period in which the average radon level should be calculated, leaving out nights and weekends when the building is empty, and the radon level most often is much higher due to reduced ventilation. Using this possibility, you get much more relevant  data.

How many years has Corentium been selling and how many units have you sold?

We were in the market in late 2011. Since then we have sold some thousands, mostly in Norway. But with the web shop now also in English, French, German and Swedish we have customers in several European countries. We also have resellers in UK, Sweden, Finland and Denmark, and more countries are coming up like Ireland, France and Spain.

Do you have plans to launch the Canary in the U.S. and Canada?

We are now looking into the formal requirements for selling our products in U.S. and Canada. In these markets we will sell the products under another name. If everything goes smooth, we hope we can provide the U.S. and Canadian customers with our products already for the next measuring season. In the meantime you can update yourself on www.corentium.com <http://www.corentium.com> . If you happen to be in Oslo, you find us in Parkveien one minute walk from the U.S. Embassy, and just behind the Royal Castle.

This article originally appeared in the May 24, 2013 issue of the Norwegian American Weekly. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (800) 305-0271.

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