RadonAware is always excited to connect with community champions making a difference in their community. We're delighted to shine a light on Chantal Wilson, owner and operator of Little Bear Engineering. Chantal is a professional mechanical engineer specializing in energy efficiency consulting, radon measurement and mitigation, and HVAC design. She completed her radon training this past year and has been learning more about radon in her own community of Revelstoke. RadonAware's Britt Swoveland sat down with Chantal to learn more about her work on radon and the steps she is taking to ensure homes, schools and workplaces are aware of the risk.
Britt: How and when did you learn about radon and what led you to believe it might be a serious health risk in your community?
Chantal: I learned about Radon about 12 years ago when I started to specialize in energy efficiency and building science. Both my current and previous home in Revelstoke were high in radon. My current home was over 800 Bq/m3 and when I ran the pellet stove it would jump to over 2,000 Bq/m3. For perspective, the Health Canada Guideline indicates radon levels should be under 200 Bq/m3. Both homes have now been successfully mitigated to well below the Health Canada Guideline. However, when I would talk to friends about the radon levels in my own home the majority had never heard of radon. Curious, I started researching radon mapping and local geology. I discovered that Revelstoke has a high potential for elevated radon levels. For me, it was alarming that there was a very high likelihood that homes in my community had elevated levels of a cancer-causing gas, but barely anyone was aware of it.
Britt: What are some of the concrete steps you have taken in the last year to raise awareness of radon and to learn more about the risk in your community?
Chantal: Last year I was invited to speak about radon at a City of Revelstoke Environmental Committee meeting and at a public presentation the City of Revelstoke Planning Department was hosting. With homeowners’ permission, I have begun mapping the radon results in Revelstoke and have been in communication with the City of Revelstoke Environmental Coordinator and Building Inspector about the radon test results. I have also had discussions with the some of the local physicians, the Revelstoke Childcare Society, and a school that has numerous homes with elevated radon levels in the area.
Britt: What do you have planned for the future to increase awareness of radon in and around the region? How can RadonAware and other groups help?
Chantal: I am currently working with Health Canada and RadonAware to put on radon information sessions this October in Revelstoke and Nakusp. We are planning separate information sessions for the general public, daycares/schools and healthcare providers. I am also working on a hands-on session for builders in the community to demonstrate the effect of sub-slab porosity and slab sealing on radon mitigation systems. Having the support of RadonAware and other organizations such as Health Canada is critical as it gives the issue of radon more validity.