Radon risk: Healthy Canadians podcast episode 1




Megan Beahen: Welcome to Healthy Canadians, your place for nuanced conversations and expert insights on health topics that matter to us all. We have practical information and resources for you and your family to stay healthy. I'm your host Megan Beahen. What if I told you that there's an invisible, odorless gas in your home, that is also the leading cause of lung cancer for people who don't smoke in Canada? A bit scary, right?

Well, it's true, and it's called radon. The good news is, there are relatively straightforward solutions to mitigate the risks. We'll dig into all of that in a moment, but first a word from, well, us. Healthy Canadians is brought to you by Health Canada and the Public Health Agency of Canada. We aim to give you information and perspectives about the health topics that matter to all of us, living in Canada.

What we discuss won't always reflect the official positions or policies of the government of Canada, but that's okay, these are conversations, not news releases. Okay. Let's talk about radon. Today, I sat down with Kelley Bush, manager of Radon Outreach and Stakeholder Engagement with Health Canada. Hello. Welcome, Kelley.

Kelley Bush: Thank you.

Megan Beahen: Thank you for coming on the show today.

Kelley Bush: I'm super excited to be here.

Megan Beahen: Awesome. Today, we're talking about radon. We were chatting a little bit before about people in Canada, their awareness for radon has actually increased quite a bit in the last few years, and the risk of lung cancer from radon. I'm thinking right away to myself, lung cancer? Not really on my radar. I don't smoke, so it's not something I think about, personally. Maybe you can tell us a little bit about the risk of radon. What is the risk? What does it pose?

Kelley Bush: Well, lung cancer. We estimate that a little over 3,000 Canadians a year will die from radon-induced lung cancer. That's more than eight people a day.

Megan Beahen: Whoa.

Kelley Bush: Yes, so it's pretty significant. It's the number one cause of lung cancer if you don't smoke.

Megan Beahen: Wow.

Kelley Bush: And the number two cause, after smoking, obviously, so a significant contributor to your risk of lung cancer. It's still something that not enough people know about, and so often what I try and do is compare it to better-known risks. The risk from long-term exposure to radon, from a death perspective, is equivalent to all accidental deaths, so that would be drownings, car accidents, fires, poisonings.

If you wear a seatbelt when you get in your car, if you change the batteries in your smoke detector every year, if you put a life jacket on your children when you go on a boat, you should also be testing your home to know if you have high levels of radon.

Megan Beahen: Wow. That's pretty shocking.

Kelley Bush: Yes.

Megan Beahen: Do people that you talk to have that reaction, as well? They're pretty shocked to hear that?

Kelley Bush: Yes, they do, and then it either leads to looking into more information to validate and determine their own beliefs, or they choose to say, "No, that can't be true. It's not an issue for me." Then it takes hearing the message a couple more times before they actually do something about it.

Megan Beahen: Okay. Cool. Yes. We're going to talk more about motivation in a little bit, but maybe we could just start with the basics. What is radon, and why is it in our homes?

Kelley Bush: Right. Good question. Radon is a radioactive gas. It comes from the breakdown of uranium in the ground. We have natural uranium in our earth's crust everywhere. While uranium breaks down, it breaks down into a number of different things, finally, it becomes lead. In that process, one of the decay products is radon gas. As a gas, it can move from the ground to the outside, where it gets diluted, or it finds its way into homes and buildings that are in contact with the ground. It's a risk when it gets into our homes, because it can accumulate to high levels.

Megan Beahen: Wow. Is it in all of our homes?

Kelley Bush: Yes. Absolutely.

Megan Beahen: Always?

Kelley Bush: Yes.

Megan Beahen: Some level?

Kelley Bush: Yes. Every building in contact with the ground, every home in contact with the ground, will have some levels of radon in it. In fact, with the type of devices that we have at the Radiation Protection Bureau, we can measure radon in outdoor air as well, although it's at very low levels.

Megan Beahen: Okay.

Kelley Bush: The only time you wouldn't have radon in your home is if you live in a houseboat, or a tree house.

Megan Beahen: Okay. That's good to know. Really, this information is for pretty much everybody.

Kelley Bush: Absolutely.

Megan Beahen: Right?

Kelley Bush: Yes.

Megan Beahen: Okay. I know people are going to hear this and they're going to want to know right away, "Is there something I can do, what do I do?" We're going to talk about that more in detail, but maybe you could give the good news side to this, that there is a solution. Right? There's something people can do.

Kelley Bush: Yes, and it's so important to know that, because that's often a barrier (that's what we found) to people taking action, because they hear this information about lung cancer and radioactive gas, and they're like, "Well, there's nothing I can do. I don't want to know about it. I'm not going to test,." ut you can do something about it. You can test, first of all. It's really easy and inexpensive to find out if you have high levels in your home, and if they are high, they can be fixed, easily, again.

Megan Beahen: Okay, that's awesome to hear. If people wanted to get more information right now, about testing and mitigation, where would they go?

Kelley Bush: Right. You would go to canada.ca/radon.

Megan Beahen: Maybe we could talk a little bit about the history of radon, because it's pretty interesting. Maybe you could tell us a little bit about how it was found, and when?

Kelley Bush: Yes. Radon gas was first discovered in the 1800s, at a time when there was a lot of research going on, about radioactive materials like uranium and plutonium, and there's a number of researchers and countries that claim to be the first to have found radon. [crosstalk]

Megan Beahen: Is Canada one of them?

Kelley Bush: Yes, absolutely.

Megan Beahen: [laughs]

Kelley Bush: A few researchers out of McGill University, in fact. This was at a time when they were just doing research, and they had no idea that radioactive material was harmful to health. They had discovered it in the minerals in the ground and were doing that research, and saw as a part of that, how a gas was emanating from uranium.

Megan Beahen: Wow. Very cool.

Kelley Bush: Then in the 1900s there was a gentleman named Stanley Watras. He lived in Pennsylvania, in the US, and had started a new job at a nuclear facility. One day, he walked into the facility and set off the radiation detectors. They have them there as a security precaution, in case you get exposure while you're working, and when you leave. The problem was, the facility wasn't operational yet, and there was no radioactive material in the building, so the question was, how was he setting off these monitors?

After an investigation, what they found was, his home had extremely high levels of radon. So high that it was decaying really fast and leaving particles on his clothing. That's what set off the detectors. Now, those levels were higher than you would normally find in a home, but it was the first incident of finding radon in a home, because prior to that, and it's because I skipped over it a little bit, in the earlier 1900s, there was research related to exposure to radon in uranium mines.

They started seeing that there was higher levels of lung cancer for uranium miners. Then this incident happened with Stanley Watras, and we realized that there was also a risk from radon levels in homes.

Megan Beahen: Okay. That's how we discovered that it could actually be in your home. Not could, it is in your home, and an elevated risk is when there's an elevated level of radon, it becomes a big problem. That was a really big problem.

Kelley Bush: Yes. That's how we discovered, in North America. There's stories of course, because this research is going on globally, so there's stories of how it was discovered in Europe and Asia, et cetera, but that's the big story of the background of radon in North American and Canada.

Megan Beahen: That's pretty cool. I want to come back to the risks, a little bit, in terms of health risks, and I'm curious about-- How does radon actually interact with our bodies? How does it cause problems? How does it pose that risk of lung cancer?

Kelley Bush: Such an important question, because often, when we start talking to people about radon and the health impact, which is lung cancer, there's these questions about asthma, respiratory effects, and stuff, and there's really none of that. Unfortunately, there's no symptoms from radon exposure. What happens is, because radon is a radioactive gas, it's an alpha radiation, and when it's released into the air, the radioactive particles attach to dust and other things in the air, and we breathe that in.

It gets lodged into our very sensitive lung tissue. Again, that radiation continues to decay and release energy, and that released energy causes damage to the lung tissue and the DNA, and over time, that leads to lung cancer.

Megan Beahen: Okay. This is not-- Like, if I had a nagging cough for weeks or months?

Kelley Bush: Well, long term, that is a symptom of lung cancer. [crosstalk]

Megan Beahen: Of lung cancer, but not a symptom of having radon.

Kelley Bush: No.

Megan Beahen: This isn't like a mold, or an asbestos situation.

Kelley Bush: No, where it's causing some irritation, it doesn't do any of that, truly, the effect is damage to the lung tissue and to the DNA.

Megan Beahen: I bet you get a lot of calls or questions from people about that. People who think that they might have radon because they have asthma--

Kelley Bush: COPD, or other things like that. No, and we really don't want to deter them from finding the cause of those ailments, because right now, the only health risk that's known, based on the research that's been done around the world, is an increased risk of developing lung cancer. It's really an issue of prevention, because unfortunately, lung cancer doesn't get diagnosed until, often, too late.

Megan Beahen: You don't want to wait until you have lung cancer to find out and start testing if you have radon.

Kelley Bush: No. That's why we're making sure Canadians know about this, so that they can test and they can reduce their exposure, because it's long-term risk, and it's cumulative risk. The sooner you take action, the better, essentially.

Megan Beahen: Maybe you could talk to us a little bit about where radon lives in the home, because when I first heard about radon, I thought, "I don't think this is really for me," or, "I don't need to be worried, because I live in a condo." It's a new condo, it's a new build, and I live on the first floor. We have a basement, but it's like a sub-basement. Do I--? I think I do need to be worried, but maybe you could talk a little bit about where it is.

Kelley Bush: First, I will say, I get that question all the time. "The radon levels in my area, I haven't heard about, it so it can't be an issue. My neighbor tested and their levels were low." You never going to know what the radon level is, where you live, unless you test. That's always my answer. Whether your area is known to have lower or high levels, you can't know what's in your own home unless you test.

With regards to where you live, in a condo-- We have done some research to look at the risk of radon in higher levels, because radon comes from the ground. Naturally, the highest levels of radon in a home are going to be found in the lower levels of the home, but it can move. We have ventilation systems that circulate air, et cetera, so we can find higher levels of radon in the first floor or the second floor of a home.

The research that we did, what we saw was, typically, we did not find high levels above the second story. Again, you can test and find out pretty easily, so we would always recommend testing.

Megan Beahen: What if I have a basement, but I never hang out in the basement?

Kelley Bush: We get that question. There's this concept of-- You don't have a basement, because there are homes that are built-- We can refer to slab on grade. They may have a crawl space, or no basement at all. You still have to test, because you're still touching the ground. That radon gas is coming from the ground, and it's going to find its way in. It can move to upper levels.

Megan Beahen: Even if someone has a brand new house, they have a really fancy basement. Really well-finished. It can still get through.

Kelley Bush: We've done a lot of research, a cross-Canada survey, to get an understanding of radon levels across the country, and as a part of that, there was a questionnaire to ask for age of home, style of home, style of ventilation system, et cetera. It would be easier for us if we could say, "If you have this age of home, or you live in this area, you don't have to worry about it," but there was no correlation. Age, size, style, you still have to test.

Megan Beahen: Wow. I'm thinking about people having conversations with their neighbors about this, and we talked about that before, about — one person finds out about radon and then you're telling your neighbor, which, I think, is probably a good thing for public awareness. Let's get the conversation going with your neighbor. Just because your neighbor tested and there was low levels, doesn't mean you're safe.

Kelley Bush: No, not at all.

Megan Beahen: The answer's always testing.

Kelley Bush: That's not just us saying it because we think you should do it. It's evidence-based. There's a neighborhood in the Ottawa area, that we did a lot of research in, and literally, you could go down the road and it would be high, high, low, high. The first factor is the amount of uranium in the ground, which then breaks down and creates that gas that moves into our homes. There's a number of other factors that influence the amount of radon that's in our home.

How we live, how many doors and windows we have open, the ventilation system we have, et cetera. Really, you have to test to know your number.

Megan Beahen: That's great to know, and let's get that conversation going with your neighbor.

Kelley Bush: I get calls from people, now. It's interesting. "I read about radon on my neighborhood Facebook page, can you tell me about it?"

Megan Beahen: Yes, that's awesome.

Kelley Bush: The power of word of mouth, and social media.

Megan Beahen: That's so cool. When we were talking earlier, I was just thinking about the risk. I know some people, or parents, are listening. Thinking about their kids. I was thinking about my beloved dog. He spends more time at home than I do. I'm thinking, "Okay, does my dog have an elevated risk?" Pets, kids. Do we need to be more worried about them?

Kelley Bush: Yes. The risk from radon exposure is cumulative. There's no research that says kids are more at risk in the moment, but their risk long-term will be higher if they're exposed to high levels at a young age, because that carries with them for the rest of their life. If you can reduce that risk at an earlier time, then you're reducing that long-term, later-in-life risk of lung cancer for children. For pets, there's no research that shows that they can get radon-induced lung cancer.

I have gotten calls from people who truly believe their dog or cat has died of lung cancer, they found out they had high levels in their home, they believe, and their lungs can-- They're breathing the same air we're breathing. While there's no evidence, it's possibly a risk. Yes.

Megan Beahen: Okay. Good to know. Should we talk about testing? Should we get into it?

Kelley Bush: Yes.

Megan Beahen: Do you want us —

Kelley Bush: We should, Yes.

Megan Beahen: Do you want to just walk us through what testing looks like?

Kelley Bush: Yes. I want to emphasize how easy it is, because we're talking about a pretty serious health risk. That can be worrisome to people, but doing something about it is not hard. From a testing perspective, you have two options. You can buy a do-it-yourself test kit, or you can hire a certified measurement professional. The key thing to do is to test long-term, you want to test for a minimum of three months. The reason for that is, radon levels can vary quite a bit over time.

[clears throat] Our radon guideline level is an annual average. If you do a long-term test, you're capturing that variation, and then you can estimate the long-term value in your home. You want to do three months test, ideally fall, winter timeframe. The hardest part of doing the test is remembering, at the end of the three months period, where you placed the detector. Oh, and I brought one. Can I grab it out of my bag here? [crosstalk]

Megan Beahen: Sure. Grab it. Let's take a look. Must be very small, if you're digging for it.

Kelley Bush: Yes. My apologies.

Megan Beahen: Yes, that's something that could get lost in the house.

Kelley Bush: Yes, well that's it.

Megan Beahen: That's why you're saying you can forget about it.

Kelley Bush: Here it is.

Megan Beahen: That's how small it is. Okay.

Kelley Bush: Yes. It's a small disc device, like a small, black — They can be in different shapes and stuff, but it's typically something like this, and you're going to place it on a table, in the lowest lived-in level of your home, where you spend at least four hours a day. Not in the unfinished part of your basement.

Megan Beahen: Okay. Like in your family room kind of thing?

Kelley Bush: Yes.

Megan Beahen: Your kitchen.

Kelley Bush: Yes.

Megan Beahen: Somewhere where you are often. Okay.

Kelley Bush: Or in your basement, if you use it, or you have plans to renovate, and maybe make a bedroom or a playroom down there. The hardest part is remembering, at the end of three months, where you placed it, where you put the envelope to send it back to the laboratory, so that you can send it back and get your results.

Megan Beahen: Okay. Yes. you put in the mail, you leave it out for a few months. This does not look like a very fancy test.

Kelley Bush: Yes. I can explain how it works.

Megan Beahen: Yes. Why don't you explain it a little bit? The technology, because it doesn't look very technological.

Kelley Bush: No, it's true. There are different detectors. This is the one that we'd recommend, because it's certified, but what's inside of this is a small piece of plastic similar to the plastic that you see in eyeglasses. What happens is, there's actually little holes in the airflows inside this little canister. The radon gas gets in there and it releases that energy, that energy and those radioactive bursts that I talked about, that cause the damage to your lungs, in this device, it causes damage to the piece of plastic.

It creates what we call tracks, or divots, in the plastic. When you send this back to the lab, what the lab looks at is that piece of plastic, and looks at the depth and the number of those tracks caused by the radon gas, to determine the radon level in it.

Megan Beahen: Cool. This isn't a situation where you can just look at it right away yourself and say, "Ding."

Kelley Bush: Ding. No.

Megan Beahen: Ding,-

Kelley Bush: No.

Megan Beahen: -you have a high level of radon. No.

Kelley Bush: You would spend about $30 to $50 for a test kit. There are digital monitors that people would be more familiar with. Looks a little bit like a carbon monoxide detector. There are digital radon monitors on the market. They're not certified, but there has been some research done. Certainly, you can visit canada.ca/radon, or contact us, and we can point you to the list of devices that have been evaluated at a minimum.

I know some people like that, but they're much more expensive. Health Canada wants to ensure accessibility for all Canadians. We recommend these, what we would call passive tests, one-time use--

Megan Beahen: Passive tests.

Kelley Bush: They're certified, the laboratories that they go to are certified, so you can trust the results that you get from them.

Megan Beahen: You leave it out for a few months, put it in the mail, goes to the lab, lab does its testing, and then they mail you back, like a report? They just let you know.

Kelley Bush: Yes. They tell you what your number is, and they tell you if you're above or below the Canadian guideline.

Megan Beahen: Okay.

Kelley Bush: If you're above the Canadian guideline, they give you some information about how to reduce it. They point you to us, usually —

Megan Beahen: Oh, awesome.

Kelley Bush: — to get more information.

Megan Beahen: The key thing here is that it's accessible, it's not too expensive. You want to put a reminder, maybe, in your calendar, so you don't forget about it.

Kelley Bush: To send it back to the lab, absolutely.

Megan Beahen: Don't forget about it, sending out.

Kelley Bush: I talked about leaving it on a table, but you could also hang it on a wall. I've suggested to people, like, hang it by a light switch that you use often, so you remember, "Oh, yes. I'm testing for radon." It's a conversation piece, maybe, when people come in

Megan Beahen: Love that. It doesn't become, also, like another fixture in your home, that you're going to just blend into the decor.

Kelley Bush: Right, or dusted away by accident.

Megan Beahen: Yes, exactly. That's awesome. When I was googling about testing before we chatted, it definitely seemed like there were lots of options out there, or a few, at least. You were saying there's some that are certified, some are not. Really, the key here, though, is that you want to get a good one, so you want to go to the website and find out the ones that we recommend.

Kelley Bush: You go to canada.ca/radon, or we've worked with a network of stakeholders in Canada, to make a list of service providers accessible. You could also go to takeactiononradon.ca, but if you go to canada.ca/radon and you look up how to test, it'll connect you to takeaction.

Megan Beahen: While you're talking, I was just thinking about renters. What does testing look like if you don't own your home, you rent an apartment? Should you test yourself? Or is this something you want to talk to your landlord about? Do you have any guidance about that?

Kelley Bush: Good question. First of all, the guideline, in general, our Canadian guideline for radon and indoor air, is a guideline. It's not enforceable. There's no legal requirements for landlords to test. What I would say to a renter, and we do get calls, for sure, would be to talk to your landlord, ask them if they've tested the building already. Ask them if they're willing to test, and if not, you can test and bring the results back to them.

There's some landlords who we get calls from, landlords who want to ensure that the property that they're renting out is healthy, and they will test themselves and mitigate. If not, there are methods and processes that you can go through, to raise concerns, if you feel like the environment that you're living in isn't healthy, because of your radon test results. We do have some information, again, at canada.ca/radon, about renters and landlords, and their options and responsibilities related to radon.

Megan Beahen: Awesome. Sounds like, once again, it's a conversation. Some people know about radon, some people don't. Having a conversation with your landlord is probably a pretty good place to start. Right?

Kelley Bush: Absolutely.

Megan Beahen: Point them to the website.

Kelley Bush: To understand what their responsibilities are, what the risks are, and how easy it is for them to test and to reduce it, because we haven't talked about that yet. Mitigating.

Megan Beahen: Mitigation, super important. We're going to dig into that in a moment, but first, I wanted to talk to you a little bit about motivation, and specifically, what motivates you in your work.

Kelley Bush: Well, sadly, the biggest motivating factor is either having been diagnosed with lung cancer or having a family member who's gone through cancer, lung cancer in general. Being more concerned, or aware. I do get more calls than I would like, from people who have lung cancer who've never smoked, or quit smoking a long time ago, because of course, smoking is a significant risk. There's a relationship between radon exposure and smoking together, that increases the risk of lung cancer.

They always say, "I wish I had known, I wish I had tested." The health risk is a big motivator. The other one, interestingly, is just being conscious of the environment and the impacts of climate change, wanting and understanding how that also impacts our home environment, and the health of our home. Wanting to ensure that we live in a healthy home, because we are spending a lot more time indoors. We do have homes that are more sealed up. Air quality is a concern, then radon also is a concern.

They're more likely to hear the messages about the risk and understand the importance of testing from a prevention perspective, and to take that action. Then for me, unfortunately, my aunt passed away of lung cancer, and it's a horrible disease. If you can prevent that risk by testing and reducing your risk to radon gas, I just think it's really important.

Megan Beahen: Absolutely. I'm sorry to hear that. I think a lot of us have members of our family that have been touched by lung cancer, and like you said earlier, you want to test before you have to get into that situation. It definitely makes you more aware. Thinking of your home holistically, as in healthy place to be, especially since we're all spending more time there, generally, I would say. Thinking about it holistically, how am I going to have the healthiest home? That's a positive way to think about it, I think.

Kelley Bush: Absolutely. There's so many choices that we make in life to improve our health, or ensure our long-term health. As you start thinking about where I'm going to be in 10 years, and 20 years, and this is just one of those things, from that perspective. The other thing is, there's lots of things we do to make sure we keep our home safe, and us safe, in our home. Like I mentioned earlier, the smoke detector, carbon monoxide. Radon is just another thing we need to be aware of, and we need to take care of, in our home.

Megan Beahen: Put it on the list.

Kelley Bush: Yes, put it on the list.

Megan Beahen: Let's talk about taking care of it. How do we mitigate? Is this an expensive solution, if we find high radon? Is it complicated? You tell us.

Kelley Bush: Yes. A standard radon mitigation system, which is referred to as active soil depressurization system, which sounds complicated, but that's —

Megan Beahen: [crosstalk] It does. It sounds expensive. But it's not?

Kelley Bush: No, it's not. It's not inexpensive, typically, and this, again, is based on data that we have for radon mitigation systems that have been installed across Canada. What we see is somewhere in the range of $2,000 to $4,000. Not inexpensive. It falls within the range of what we tend to pay these days, unfortunately, for home maintenance-type stuff. Less expensive than replacing a furnace or an air conditioner, and it reduces our risk of lung cancer.

How the system works, because I said it's active soil depressurization, I often just refer to it as a radon reduction system. It's a small, four-inch PVC pipe that's put through the foundation floor in your home, and it's piped outside, either at ground level, or at roofline, and there's a small fan attached. What that fan does is draw the soil gas and the radon gas from under our home, and pushes it outside, where it gets diluted before it gets into the house.

These systems can be installed in less than a day, by a certified professional, and will reduce the radon levels by 80% to 90%. Very effective. Doesn't take too much time to install it, and reducing your risk of lung cancer.

Megan Beahen: Is it reducing the risk of radon right away, as soon as you install it? Immediate results? [crosstalk]

Kelley Bush: Immediately. That's a really cool thing. If you were to Google — there's videos out there, but immediately, you turn that system on, and within an hour, you see — you have a monitor that's tracking, a real-time monitor, that a certified professional would have. It's a high-end measurement device, and you see those levels drop. In a house that's two or 3,000, which would be a very high-level, drops to below a hundred.

Megan Beahen: It works right away.

Kelley Bush: Very effective.

Megan Beahen: You said certified professional a couple of times. Does that mean I should not personally install my own pipe with a fan?

Kelley Bush: I haven't mentioned it, but there is, in Canada, what we recognize as a Canadian National Radon Proficiency Program, or CNRPP, and if you look that up, there's certified measurement professionals, certified mitigation professionals, and laboratories. That would be our guidance, but certainly, we get calls from people who maybe can't afford to hire a certified professional, but they have family members who are handy, who are in the renovations or trades industry, or HVAC area.

We do have guidance that spells out, technically, how these types of systems can be installed. We would point them to that guidance. Ideally, you're hiring a certified mitigation professional, but if you're in the industry and you know what you're doing, and you use the technical guidance that we have, you can install a system yourself as well.

Megan Beahen: Awesome. I just have one question about it going out into the air again. The pipe comes up, it's going out, probably, into your backyard or the side of your house. Then, how fast does it dissipate? Am I creating another risk area outside? [crosstalk]

Kelley Bush: Yes, for your pets or your kids. We get that. We've gotten lots of questions about that. The answer is: it gets diluted or dissipates very quickly, within about a meter of the home. Again, we've done research around that. The roof line level, it gets diluted very quickly. It flows up. At the ground level, we've done research in homes across Canada to determine how quickly it can dissipate, because we want to make sure we're giving good guidance on where you can put the output of the system. It gets diluted very quickly, so it's not a concern.

Megan Beahen: Awesome. Before we close, if you had to say one thing, I don't want to put you on the spot, but I'm putting you on the spot, you just say one thing to someone who hasn't tested yet, they live in a home in Canada, what's your best advice to people?

Kelley Bush: I would say, ultimately, it's your choice. We all have our personal reasons for making health-related risk decisions, but I would come back to that message I said earlier, about accidental deaths. Exposure to radon is equivalent to all accidental deaths. That's significant. 3,000 Canadians a year, 8 people a day, die from radon-induced lung cancer. If you're wearing a seatbelt in your car, if you're putting a life jacket on yourself or your kids when you're paddle boarding, or you're out on a boat.

If you are changing the batteries in your smoke detector, you need to test and reduce your exposure to radon.

Megan Beahen: I'm going to get you to plug the website one more time. One more.

Kelley Bush: Canada.ca/radon. Our phone number's there, you can call me personally if you want to have a chat about it.

Megan Beahen: I can call you personally and ask you questions.

Kelley Bush: Absolutely. That's part of what we are doing.

Megan Beahen: I feel a lot of people might start calling you, Kelley, after this conversation.

Kelley Bush: We have our numbers and our contact information there. I'm sure if you Google me and Health Canada, you'd find me, and I'd be happy to have a conversation with you about radon.

Megan Beahen: Wow. That is a great offer.

Kelley Bush: It's my job.

Megan Beahen: Amazing. Thank you, Kelley. Thank you for joining. It's obvious you've been doing this for a very long time.

Kelley Bush: Not too long. [laughs] I couldn't help it.

Megan Beahen: Long enough. Long enough that you're very passionate about it and you've had a lot of personal conversations with people, people who have not tested yet, and you're trying to get motivated, and then people who have unfortunately been impacted by the risk of radon, and have had a health problem. That definitely comes through, I think, in your passion. Thank you, and thank you for giving this practical information, that I think people in Canada need.

Kelley Bush: You're very welcome. Thanks for inviting me here. I've really enjoyed the discussion.

Megan Beahen: Joining us now is Madeline Poplett. She's the host of our behind-the-science segment. Welcome, Maddy.

Madeline Poplett: Thanks, Megan. I'm excited to be here. You had a great chat with Kelley. She is the right person for this kind of conversation about radon, because it is a little scary, but she's very reassuring in her delivery, which I appreciate.

Megan Beahen: You got it. I totally agree. It was a bit of a journey, started a little bit scary, thinking about the threat, the risk of radon in my own home, but she is totally reassuring, because she gives great practical information about testing and mitigation, and I think that's information that we can all use.

Madeline Poplett: For sure.

Megan Beahen: I know you're going to dig in a little bit more about the science with Kelley. Do you want to tell us a little bit about what you're going to talk about?

Madeline Poplett: Yes. Kelley and I are going to talk about the linkages between radon and climate change. A bit of a big topic, but it's going to be super interesting to learn about the things that we're doing in our home, in regards to climate change, and how that impacts radon in the home too. I won't spoil too much, I'll let her explain it, but it's going to be a great conversation.

Megan Beahen: Very cool. Can't wait to listen in. Thanks. Thanks for tuning into Healthy Canadians. If you're watching on YouTube, don't forget to click the like button and subscribe to stay up to date on future episodes. Find us wherever you get your podcast, and leave us a review if you like what you heard. For more information on health topics that matter to you, visit canada.ca/health. I'm your host, Megan Beahen.

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