November 30, 2010
For immediate release
Fact Sheet: Radon
OTTAWA - The Honourable Leona Aglukkaq, Minister of Health, and Mr. Steve Blaney, Member of Parliament for Lévis-Bellechasse, today announced the first year results of the Government of Canada's Cross-Canada Survey of Radon Concentrations in Homes. The results demonstrate the need for Canadians to test their homes for radon.
"The Harper Government is working to keep Canadian families safe from the health risks of radon, the second leading cause of lung cancer," said Minister Aglukkaq. "You can't see it, smell it, or taste it. The only way to know if you have a radon problem is to test your home."
"The first year results of this survey reinforce how important it is for Canadians to test their homes," said Mr. Blaney. "Our Government recommends using long-term test devices for a minimum of three months, in fall, winter and early spring when the windows are closed. If the radon level is high, the problem can be fixed."
"November is Lung Cancer Awareness Month. Radon is the second leading cause of cancer, after smoking," said Heather Borquez, president and CEO of the Canadian Lung Association. "Last year, lung cancer claimed the lives of 20,500 Canadians. It's estimated that about 10 per cent of lung cancer deaths are related to long-term exposure to residential radon. We urge Canadians to protect their loved ones by testing their homes for radon."
This two-year survey of approximately 18,000 homes, to be completed in 2011, will estimate the number of homes with radon levels above the current Canadian guideline.
Radon gas is produced by the natural breakdown of uranium in the ground. It can get into homes through foundation cracks and openings and build up to unacceptably high levels. Radon levels vary from house to house depending on a number of factors such as the soil the home is built on, construction and ventilation. While the radon levels in the vast majority of Canadian homes are below the current Canadian guideline, first-year results of the Cross-Canada Survey of Radon Concentrations in Homes indicate that approximately 7% of Canadian homes have elevated radon levels – a number that is slightly higher than originally predicted.
Radon self-test kits are available through the internet from radon service providers and at certain hardware stores.If radon levels in a home are above the Canadian guideline of 200 becquerels/metre3, Health Canada recommends taking steps to reduce the radon level in the home.The higher the level of radon the sooner action should be taken to address the problem. General information on how to reduce radon levels can be found in Radon: A Guide for Canadian Homeowners, which is available on the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation's website.
Health Canada has an ongoing radon outreach and awareness program that is focussed on raising awareness of radon and its potential health risks, and to encouraging radon testing and remediation.
For more information, please visit Health Canada's website at www.healthcanada.gc.ca/radon.
Jenny Van Alstyne
Office of the Honourable Leona Aglukkaq
Federal Minister of Health