A coalition of national health organizations is urging Canadians to test their homes for radon, a naturally occurring and cancer-causing radioactive gas. The groups say radon is responsible for the deaths of more than 3,200 Canadians a year, which amounts to more deaths annually than car collisions, house fires, carbon monoxide poisoning and drowning combined.
The Canadian Cancer Society, the Canadian Association of Radon Scientists and Technologists (CARST) and CAREX Canada are launching Plan to be Here: an initiative that aims to raise awareness about the cancer risks associated with radon and the importance of having homes tested.
“Many Canadians are unaware that radon is the leading cause of lung cancer in non-smokers,” says Pam Warkentin, executive director of CARST and project manager, Take Action on Radon. “Just as it’s now second nature for Canadians to buckle their seatbelts and change the batteries in their smoke detectors, we need to encourage people to take action to reduce their cancer risk and test their homes for radon.”
Radon is a radioactive gas that is present in the air and can accumulate in high concentrations in homes. Long-term exposure to high levels of radon damages the DNA in lung tissue and can lead to increased lung cancer risk, say the groups.
According to Health Canada, more than one million Canadian homes have high radon levels.
“Radon can find its way into any home, regardless of location, age, upkeep or design,” says contractor and TV host Mike Holmes Jr. “Help keep your family safe and get your home tested for radon levels. Testing is easy, and if your home has high levels of radon, the mitigation process is straightforward and affordable.”
Kelley Bush, manager of Radon Education and Awareness for Health Canada, says Canadians need to be more proactive when it comes to protecting themselves and their loved ones from radon exposure.
“A recent study commissioned by Health Canada found that only six per cent of Canadians have tested their home for radon,” says Bush. “We need to increase that number.”