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Are you and your loved ones at risk for Lung Cancer?
Despite causing 3,200 deaths in Canada annually as the second leading cause of lung cancer, radon gas is relatively unknown. The naturally occurring, colorless and odorless gas is produced from the radioactive decay of uranium in rocks and soil. It is extremely prevalent in the Canadian Rockies and prairies and enters homes through cracks in foundation walls, concrete floors, and penetrations through floor drains and sump pits. Once inhaled, radon gas breaks down and causes DNA mutations that lead to cancer.
Dr. Aaron Goodarzi, an assistant professor at the University of Calgary’s Arnie Charbonneau Cancer Institute and the lead author of the U of C study says that despite the Health Canada limit, research by the World Health Organization (WHO) has shown an increased risk of cancer at 100Bq/m3 (becquerels per metre cubed, a unit of measurement for radiation). “At over 100Bq/m3, we advise to strongly think about mitigation, especially if you have young children,” says Goodarzi, “kids breathe more and faster. Plus, little lungs are growing, and growing tissue is fundamentally more susceptible to the negative effects of radon.”
But radiation is bad for everyone. From 2013 to 2016 Goodarzi and his researcher team tested radon levels in 2,382 homes in Calgary and surrounding communities. Nearly half tested with radon levels over 100Bq/m3. The WHO estimates the average lifetime risk of lung cancer increases by 16% for every 100Bq/m3 of chronic radon exposure.
There is a lot of misunderstanding about the danger that radon poses. Radon is not something that builds up in your body. The damage to your DNA is immediate-right that second. But people believe it’s a long-term risk because it could take 10 years or more for this DNA mutation to become radon-induced cancer.
Goodarzi equates radon testing and mitigation to cancer prevention programs. “More than 300 Albertans were told last year they have lung cancer even though they never smoked. That’s attributable to radon,” he says.
Because radon is colourless and odorless, testing your home is the only way to determine how much of this dangerous gas you might be exposed to.
WHICH HOMES HAVE A PROBLEM?
Almost all homes have some radon. The levels can vary dramatically even between similar homes located next to each other.
The amount of radon in a home will depend on many factors including:
Radon concentration can vary enormously depending on the uranium content in the soil. As well, radon flows more easily through some soils than others, for example sand versus clay.
The type of home and its design affect the amount of contact with the soil and the number and size of entry points for radon.
Foundations with more cracks and openings have more potential entry points for radon.
The use of exhaust fans, windows and fireplaces, for example, influences the pressure difference between the house and the soil. This pressure difference can draw radon indoors and influences the rate of exchange of outdoor and indoor air.
Because there are so many factors, it is not possible to predict the radon level in a home.
The only way for sure is to test.
Choose a Certified Radon Mitigation Professional
Complete Property Restoration is certified under the Canadian National Radon Proficiency Program (C-NRPP). Lowering radon levels in a home requires specific technical knowledge and skills to ensure the job is done properly.
Choose a contractor to fix a radon problem just as you would choose someone to do other home renovations or repairs.