The 100 Radon Test Kit Challenge targets municipalities across Canada where radon testing has been limited, but where there is a potential for homes to have elevated radon levels. Salmon Arm is participating. (Image contributed)

A leading cause of lung cancer remains an unknown to most people

Health Canada to hold info session on radon gas Jan. 14 in Salmon Arm, providing free test kits

According to Health Canada, radon gas is the second leading cause of lung cancer in Canada, yet most Canadians haven’t heard of it or know of the dangers.

To help raise awareness about radon exposure and to promote radon testing in buildings, an information session and free test kits will be available on Monday, Jan. 14 at the Salmon Arm campus of Okanagan College.

CAREX Canada, Health Canada and Little Bear Engineering are joining forces to make a presentation at 7 p.m. Jan. 14.

According to its website, CAREX (CARcinogen EXposure), is a multi-institution research project that combines academic expertise and government resources to generate an evidence-based carcinogen surveillance program for Canada.

Salmon Arm has been selected as a community to receive 100 free radon test kits, as part of the 100 Test Kit Challenge from Take Action on Radon. The 100 Radon Test Kit Challenge targets municipalities across Canada where radon testing has been limited, but where there is a potential for homes to have elevated radon levels, states a news release from CAREX. More information can be found by emailing sa.radonchallenge@gmail.com, or by registering on the event page to participate in the challenge.

Related: 2016 – Homeowners should check for radon

The release also states that radon is a colourless and odourless gas that is the leading cause of lung cancer among non-smokers. Health Canada estimates that radon is responsible for approximately 16 per cent of lung cancers in Canada.

“At CAREX, we evaluated which chemicals and agents Canadians are exposed to that can cause cancer. CAREX Canada risk estimates for indoor air show that radon is the highest priority exposure in Canadian settings,” says Anne-Marie Nicol, SFU health sciences professor and co-principal investigator. “Unfortunately, recent Government of Canada research shows that most Canadians still haven’t heard about radon gas or know that it can cause lung cancer.”

Radon is released when uranium breaks down in the ground. This becomes a hazard if the radon gas gets indoors through cracks and openings in a building’s foundation, and accumulates to high levels. Radon has been found in public buildings, schools, hospitals, and new and older homes in many places across Canada.

Radon testing is the only way to find out whether dangerous radon levels are present. Health Canada recommends testing homes and all public spaces. Mitigation strategies can reduce radon exposure in both new and existing structures.

The news release states:

· Radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer in Canada, and causes about 3,200 lung cancer deaths each year.

· Exposure to radon is preventable through testing homes and buildings, and pursuing mitigation strategies if levels are above Government of Canada’s guideline of 200 Bq/m3.

· Testing is simple – Canadians can test their homes by using test kits that cost between $40 and 60 or by hiring a professional to test their home.

· CAREX Canada is funded by the Canadian Partnership Against Cancer, an independent organization funded by Health Canada to accelerate action on cancer control (www.carexcanada.ca).


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