November is Radon Action Month. It is an opportunity to bring attention to the radon gas hazard. More importantly, it is a chance for all of us to do something vital for our health: test our homes for radon.
Why does this matter to me?
Radon is the leading cause of lung cancer for non-smokers. Unfortunately, lung cancer is often deadly, with one of the lowest survival rates of all cancers for both men and women. According to Lung Cancer Canada, on average 510 Canadians will be diagnosed with lung cancer every week. Sadly, every week, 400 Canadians will lose their battle with the illness. we recognise that not all lung cancers are radon-related. We can’t always easily connect lung cancer occurrences to radon exposures. But we can certainly say that radon-induced lung cancers are preventable. Our actions today can determine health outcomes 20 to 30 years down the road, for ourselves and for our families.
What is radon gas and what makes it a carcinogen?
Radon is a radioactive gas produced by the breakdown of uranium in soil. Uranium is a naturally occurring element and, to some extent, it is present everywhere in Canada. You can’t see or smell radon gas. Undetectable without equipment, it can get into your home through cracks in the foundation or gaps around pipes. At high concentrations, it can increase your risk of developing lung cancer.
How does this happen? Radon gas emits the kind of radiation that can’t travel very far. If it gets into your lungs, it will keep irradiating your lungs from within potentially causing cell mutations that could lead to cancer.
- Radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer after smoking.
- Health Canada estimates that over 3000 (16%) of lung cancer deaths per year among Canadians are attributable to indoor radon exposure. Furthermore, smokers exposed to radon are at significantly higher risk of lung cancer.
- The higher the radon level and the longer people are exposed to radon, the higher the risk.
- 7% of Canadians are living in homes with radon levels above the current radon guideline of 200 Bq/m3. Further information on Radon can be found on various websites including those of Health Canada, our website and at www.takeactiononradon.ca
What can I do to protect my family?
To reduce the risk of lung cancer for your family, simply follow these three steps:
- One: Purchase a long-term detector and follow the instructions
- Two: Remember to mail the detector to the laboratory for analysis.
- Three: If your home is over the Guideline, contact a certified radon mitigation professional for advice.
While nobody wants to deal with bad news, in the case of radon, mitigation is usually simple and inexpensive. In contrast, not knowing may come at a price none of us wants to pay. Please click on the video link to watch Mike Holmes explain the dangers of radon gas and the easy steps you can take to remedy the situation.
From Awareness to Action
My personal action steps this fall are to have my family in Calgary test their homes for radon. Because I live in a condo on the 25th floor, I am not particularly concerned for myself. However, my sister-in-law with her family and my daughters’ grandparents live in houses. And since both families spend a lot of time on the ground floor and in the basement. I would like the peace of mind of knowing they are ok.
Where to purchase a radon test?
There are many reputable radon test providers. You want to make sure that your service provider is a C-NRPP certified radon measurement professional or a C-NRPP certified radon laboratory. I suggest that you go to the C-NRPP website and do a search on Find a Professional page. C-NRPP is the Canadian National Radon Proficiency Program. It sets standards for the industry and makes sure they are followed.
I have purchased my tests through the Institute’s National Home Radon Testing Service. All I needed to do is click the button below and submit my order. I can’t say I am not biased. And you can’t really blame me: I have the good fortune of working with amazing, dedicated, committed professionals. Aside from my personal preference, I fully trust the Institute’s radon testing service. Our laboratory is C-NRPP certified and we only use C-NRPP certified radon measurement devices. The Institute has been working with the radon issue for over 35 years, so there is a wealth of experience. I also know if I have questions, I can talk to a live person who analysed my test and who can give me an explanation if I need it. So, if for one reason or another, my family members forget to return the device at the end of the test period, our staff will contact my family and remind them.
If you do not like shopping online, you can always call us at 1-800-263-5803 (option 4) or 1-306-975-0566 (option 5)
Let’s Commit to Action Together!
I know we are all super busy and it is hard to find time for everything in our lives. But let’s make time. Let’s use this month of November, a break between Halloween candy count and Christmas festivities, to do one simple thing for our families. Let’s order a radon test. Our health and our family’s health is well worth it. I did not want to put this off any longer. I have ordered my tests and my family members in Calgary will receive them right in time for the fall-winter testing season. November is Radon Action Month for me.
Author: Natalia Mozayani, RSIC Executive Director