The BC Lung Association is urging British Columbian homeowners to test the radon levels inside their homes. Exposure to colourless, odourless radon gas is the leading cause of lung cancer after smoking and BC is known to have elevated levels.
“Should British Columbians be concerned about radon exposure? Yes, absolutely. Should they panic? No,” said Michele Caskey, BC Lung Association Volunteer Director for the Grand Forks area, known to have a high risk of radon.
“Virtually every house in BC contains some radon. The question is, how much? The only way to know for certain, is to test,” she continued.
Radon is a radioactive gas that comes from the breakdown of uranium in the ground. It can seep undetected into homes, schools, workplaces and other buildings through cracks in the walls or foundation.
“Radon exposure accounts for up to 16 per cent of lung cancers so we suggest all BC homeowners test their home’s radon levels,” says Carlynn Ferguson-King of the BC Lung Association.
When radon is released into the atmosphere, it gets diluted. But if it finds its way into your home it can accumulate to high levels, and that’s when it can become dangerous.
Being exposed to high doses of radon over a long period of time is a serious lung cancer risk.
Measured in becquerels per cubic metre (Bq/m3), Health Canada recommends home radon levels not exceed a safety threshold of 200 (Bq/m3).
As there is no known safe level of exposure, the BC Lung Association recommends making every effort to minimize home radon levels.
“One house can have radon levels next to zero while the house next door can be off the charts,” continued Ferguson-King. “And if your radon levels are high, it’s not hard to fix. A certified radon mitigation professional can reduce radon levels in most homes by more than 80 per cent for about the same cost as other common home repairs.”
For the past three years, the BC Lung Association’s RadonAware Team has partnered with as many as 80 communities across BC to educate home-owners and renters about the risk of radon. Through its outreach efforts, the program has succeeded in doubling available radon test data in BC while helping homeowners minimize their risk of lung cancer.
“While we encourage everyone to test for radon, we really want to emphasize the importance of testing in high-risk, or area 1 communities,” said Ferguson-King.
For more information about radon, to buy a test kit, and learn how to mitigate should your radon levels exceed available safety guidelines, visit www.radonaware.ca or call the BC Lung Association toll-free at 1.800.665.5864. Want to win a free radon test kit?Enter our monthly RadonAware contest to win one of three free radon test kits (provided by AccuStar Canada) at http://www.radonaware.ca/contest.