More than 35 years after studies first linked radon to lung cancer, researchers and public health officials are urging new legislation to prevent an estimated 3000 Canadians from dying every year after exposure to the radioactive gas.
Radon is the second-leading cause of lung cancer, after smoking, accounting for about 16% of lung cancer deaths annually, reports the Canadian Cancer Society.
Radon is a naturally occurring by-product of uranium that can seep into any building from the soil. Radon cannot be seen, tasted or smelled. The carcinogen may accumulate in any home — regardless of a region's geographic risk — particularly in basements and crawl spaces that have not been properly ventilated.
A Waterdown resident is urging the local school board and provincial government introduce mandatory testing in high risk areas for radon — the second leading cause of lung cancer among Canadians.
A colourless and odourless gas that is naturally produced by the breakdown of uranium in soil, radon can seep through a crack in a building’s foundation.
Robert Graham has been in a two-year long battle with government officials to have testing done at school sites.
“I think the fear is if they test a few of the schools, especially the one-level schools, that if they found that they have high levels that everybody is going to panic,” he said. “It’s not to cause panic it’s just to see are kids still going to schools that may have this radon leakage problem - you don’t know unless you test.”
A grandfather to four children, Graham said the Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board has so far been mum on whether it will test some of its facilities.
Lynn Douglas’s Hunter River home five times over acceptable radon limit
When Lynn Douglas’s husband was diagnosed with lung cancer, it came about 30 years after he gave up smoking.
That led to the couple talking about testing their home near Hunter River for radon, which turned up in levels more than five times higher than Health Canada uses as a guideline.
Douglas’s husband, Andrew Wells, died in October, about a month after his diagnosis and before the testing was done.
When Douglas got the results they caught her by surprise.
“I’m a fairly well informed person. It just wasn’t on my radar,” she said.
Radon is a naturally occurring radioactive gas produced by the decay of uranium and the amount present depends on an area’s geology. The gas is odourless, colourless and tasteless so the only way to find it is through testing.
Health advocates are urging New Brunswickers to have their homes tested for a potentially dangerous and cancer-causing gas.
About 25 per cent of homes in the province have radon levels that exceed national guidelines, according to a two-year Health Canada study.
That's higher than anywhere else in the country, the study shows.
Radon exposure is the second-leading cause of lung cancer, after smoking, said Barb MacKinnon, of the New Brunswick Lung Association.
ORONTO, Nov. 8, 2012 -- /CNW/ - It is a normal reaction to try and avoid danger when we see it. When faced with a hazardous object it is reasonable to stay away from it or, if possible, to remove it. When we smell smoke, we know to check for a fire and call for help. But what if the threat is not so easily detectable? What if it is present in our everyday lives and we cannot see it, smell it or taste it? This is exactly the kind of hazard that radioactive radon gas is. While undetectable by human senses, it presents a very real danger, in fact, it is the second leading cause of lung cancer after smoking.
Test Your Home for Radon During Lung Cancer Awareness Month - Radon Gas Identified as Second Leading Cause of Lung Cancer, After Smoking
TTAWA, NOV. 1, 2012 — /CNW/ - Recent research by Health Canada estimates that 16 per cent of lung cancer deaths among Canadians are attributable to indoor radon exposure, making radon gas the second leading cause of lung cancer after tobacco smoking. The good news is that it is easy to reduce the risk.
"November is Lung Cancer Awareness Month and an opportunity to raise awareness of this significant, but relatively unknown, health risk", said the Honourable Leona Aglukkaq, Minister of Health. "Health Canada is encouraging all Canadians to conduct a simple test to measure radon levels in their home and to take steps to reduce exposure, if necessary."
In April, Health Canada released new updated information about human exposure to radon. Research by the agency indicates hundreds of additional cases of lung cancer are caused by exposure to radon than previously believed from earlier research.
In response, Health Canada published a new informational pamphlet about radon. It reads, “Long-term exposure to high levels of radon in the home may increase the risk of developing lung cancer. For smokers, the combination of smoking and exposure to radon can significantly increase the risk of lung cancer. Radon exposure is linked to roughly 10% of lung cancers in Canada, and is the second leading cause of lung cancer after smoking.” The agency goes on to state that the only way to know if radon is a problem in one’s home is to have it tested.
Radon Gas Deadlier Than Thought: Radioactive Substance Causes 16% of Lung Cancer Cases, Health Canada Says
Radon seeping invisibly into some Canadian homes causes hundreds more lung-cancer deaths a year than previously thought, a Health Canada study based on a recent testing blitz has concluded.
The department has almost doubled the estimated risk posed by the radioactive gas, saying it likely accounts for 16% of lung cancer cases, up from the 10% estimate that had been accepted for decades.
About 3,200 Canadians a year likely die because of exposure to radon, produced naturally when uranium in the soil degrades, say the study authors. Efforts to reduce radon levels need to be stepped up, they urge in a paper appearing in the journal Radiation Protection Dosimetry.
Despite elevated radon levels, Souris Consolidated School is safe for staff and students, says the province’s chief health officer.
Dr. Heather Morrison said radon only causes health effects after high levels of exposure over a long period of time.
“If there’s one key message, that would be it,” she said.
Recent test results showed levels of 588 becquerels per cubic metre and 386 becquerels per cubic metre in two rooms at the school.
Health Canada’s guideline sets the acceptable level at 200 becquerels per cubic
Morrison said she made recommendations to the Education Department and the Eastern School District to have work done right away to reduce the radon levels.
She also said radon is much less of an issue in the summer than it is in the winter, in part because there are more windows open in the building to help air circulate.
“That’s why also the risk for students