Radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer in Canada after tobacco smoking.
What is Radon?
Radon is a colourless, odourless and tasteless radioactive gas that can sometimes accumulate to high levels inside buildings, which, if people are exposed for a long time, can cause lung cancer. Radon enters buildings from soil through cracks in the foundation, walls or floors and gaps around cables or pipes. Radon levels are often highest in basements or lower levels of buildings as they are closer to the source of radon.
What can I do?
If you live in or are a landlord for a home on the ground floor or in a basement, VCH recommends testing for radon.
A testing kit is easy to use and costs about $40. Kits are available from BC Lung Association. Radon testing kits can be purchased at some hardware stores, and are available for loan at the North Vancouver District Public Library.
If elevated radon levels are found, measures can be taken to address the problem, such as installing a venting system to direct the radon gas to the outdoors where the gas can be diluted to safe levels.
What are safe levels?
Ideally, radon levels should be as low as practical. The Canadian guideline for remedial action is 200Bq/m3. The World Health Organization recommends taking action if concentrations are above 100Bq/m3.
Testing in schools
In winter 2017/18, VCH screened public schools on the North Shore, Sea to Sky, Sunshine Coast, Powell River and Central Coast for radon. The results were shared with schools, which have now taken remedial actions as needed. Download the Radon Results Report.
Schools in Richmond and Vancouver were not tested, since previous radon surveys have shown very low levels in these areas.