OTTAWA, 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."
Radon is a naturally occurring radioactive gas in the ground that can't be seen, smelled or tasted. It can get into the home undetected through cracks in the foundation or gaps around pipes. The only way to measure the radon level in the home is to take a simple and inexpensive test, which can be purchased at most hardware stores. Health Canada recommends testing for a minimum of three months starting in the fall, when windows and doors typically remain closed.
"Canadians are at higher risk of getting lung cancer if radon gas is present in their homes and if they smoke or are exposed to second-hand smoke," says Mary-Pat Shaw, acting CEO and president of the Canadian Lung Association. "During Lung Cancer Awareness Month, the Canadian Lung Association encourages people to test their homes for radon gas and to eliminate their exposure to tobacco smoke."
As part of the long-term testing process, homeowners can hire a certified professional to test their home or purchase a do-it-yourself test kit. At the end of the testing period, the detector is sent to a laboratory and a report will be sent indicating the level of radon in the home. If radon levels are found to exceed the Canadian guideline of 200 becquerels per cubic meter, then it can be reduced at a reasonable price. Homeowners can visit Health Canada's website for information on the steps they can take to reduce radon levels in their home.
In March 2012, Health Canada released results from the Cross-Canada Survey of Radon Concentration in Homes. This study obtained an estimate of the proportion of the Canadian population living in homes with radon gas levels above the guideline.
For more information on radon please see Health Canada's website.
SOURCE Health Canada