Radon is a colourless, odourless gas that is the leading cause of lung cancer behind smoking; and the BC Lung Association is trying to raise awareness of the threat posed by radon.
In November 2015, Ashcroft council approved sending a member of the public works department and a member of the fire department to a radon awareness workshop in Kamloops. The two people who attended brought 12 radon testing kits back to the village, which were placed in various buildings throughout the community, including each village-owned building, buildings owned by School District No. 74, and private residences.
When analyzed, the results indicated that the level of radon in our community is well below both the Canadian guideline and the World Health Organization recommendations. However, Interior Health notes that radon is in every home, but at an unknown level, and the only way to know is to test.
Radon is a radioactive gas that comes from the breakdown of uranium in the ground. It can seep, undetected, into buildings through cracks in the walls or foundation, or gaps around pipes.
“Radon exposure accounts for up to 16 per cent of lung cancers, so we suggest all B.C. homeowners test their home’s radon levels,” says Carlynn Ferguson-King of the BC Lung Association.
“One house can have radon levels next to zero, while the house next door can be off the charts. And if your radon levels are high, it’s not hard to fix. A certified radon mitigation professional can reduce radon levels in most homes by more than 80 per cent for about the same cost as other common home repairs.”
At a recent open meeting, Ashcroft council directed staff to request 50 radon testing kits from Interior Health, which—when received—will be available to members of the public at a nominal cost, which will include an analysis of the results. These results will be sent to the individual participants.
The test is simple: a testing device is left exposed to the air on the lowest level of the building for at least three months, and is then sent to a test laboratory for analysis. Fall and winter is a good time to test for radon, as buildings are usually better “sealed” at this time of year (as opposed to spring and summer, when doors and windows are left open).
The kits will be available through the Ashcroft village office, and residents will be notified when they are available. Homeowners can also buy a test kit (or enter to win one of three given away monthly) at www.RadonAware.ca.