We have a suite of radon projects, many of which fall under our Healthy Indoor Environments Initiative and are supported by a team which includes a lawyer, academic epidemiologist, and public health advocates.
We seek to promote education and awareness, expand community testing, assess current regulation, and provide law reform initiatives. We want to make sure BC residents know about radon, that BC has a radon action plan, and that no one is needleslly exposed to high radon. Some of our projects to date include:
TESTING AND AWARENESS
Radon Detection Library Lending Program In partnership with Health Canada, Simon Fraser University, and regional library federations, we promote the Radon Detection Library Lending Program through which library members can borrow digital radon monitors from their local library. The program is currently available in North Shore/Sunshine Coast/Sea-to-Sky region, Kootenay region, and Okanagan Region libraries.
Radon Community Testing: Daycares Children’s developing lungs and faster breathing make them more susceptible to radon exposure and so it’s especially important to know about radon levels in daycares. Interior Health has made radon testing mandatory for daycares in its health region. We’re currently working with Health Canada on a pilot daycare-testing program in select areas of the Lower Mainland.
Radon Community Testing: Municipalities and Regional Districts It is very important for realtors, builders, municipal governments, homeowners, renters, and other residents to know how prevalent radon is in their community. We seek to expand testing so BC communities can have a better sense of how many homes, workplaces and other buildings have done testing in British Columbia and many communities do not know their radon levels. This year we are working in the Central Okanagan. Together with Take Action on Radon, a national radon awareness campaign, we are distributing 1400 free test kits in Kelowna, Lake Country, Peachland, Westbank First Nation and West Kelowna.
Radon Mapping Radon potential maps are an important tool to help people understand the prevalence of elevated radon at the regional, municipal, and neighbourhood level. The BC Lung Association has worked to convene the Canadian Radon Database and Mapping Working Group to help share data and create uniform standards for radon mapping across Canada.
Radon and Renters Few renters in BC know about radon. However, landlords have a clear duty to ensure the spaces they rent are safe. We are working to show renters have a right to have their homes tested and mitigated, and to spread the word among housing advocates.
EVALUATION CURRENT REGULATION
Radon and the Building Code The BC Building Code now has provisions to ensure the basic components of a radon mitigation system We are working with developers, municipal inspectors and home owners to evaluate whether the Code is working as intended and to learn what can be done better.
Radon, Rights and Duties Apart from the Building Code, radon is almost never mentioned in BC’s legal framework. However, across many areas of law, there are general requirements that indoor spaces be kept safe. We are researching areas such as workplace health and safety, public health law, and construction law to help everyone in BC know their legal obligations and rights around radon.
LAW AND POLICY REFORM INITIATIVES
Radon and Real Estate It is important for people to think about radon when they buy and sell houses. We are proud to have worked with the British Columbia Real Estate Association to have radon added to the Property Disclosure Statement. As well, and in part as a result of our education and outreach efforts, the Real Estate Council of British Columbia has added new guidance for real estate agents and radon.
Radon Policies for Local Governments There is a lot that municipal governments and regional districts can do in BC to make progress on radon. Steps include declaring Radon Action Month, community testing, and new bylaws to protect renters. We are working with local governments to develop local radon plans.
(Photo: Dr. Noah Quastel, Director, Law and Policy, Healthy Indoor Environments Program)