MONTREAL, Nov. 1, 2015 /CNW Telbec/ - November is Radon Awareness Month. The Canadian Cancer Society (CCS) would like to remind homeowners that radon is a naturally occurring carcinogenic gas that has no smell, colour or taste. November and subsequent winter months are an ideal period to test for radon in the house so that remedial measures can then be taken if the level is too high.
Why is the CCS so concerned about radon? It's simple. After smoking, radon is the leading cause of lung cancer, the deadliest cancer in the country. In Canada, it is estimated that 16% of lung cancer deaths (one in six) are radon-related, that is, more than 600 deaths in Quebec each year (3,000 deaths nationally). Someone who is exposed to elevated levels of radon for many years is at a high-risk of getting lung cancer. In addition, smoking considerably increases the effect of radon on the lungs, which is why it's important to reduce or quit tobacco consumption.
"If you're a homeowner, there are things you should know about radon. This gas, which is present in the soil, usually seeps into the basement. This is where the highest concentration is found. The only way to determine the quantity of radon present is by testing for it. The Canadian Cancer Society recommends taking a long-term measurement of radon over a minimum period of three months because levels vary greatly from one day to another. The coldest months of the year are the best time to test for radon," says Jacinthe Hovington, Director of Cancer Prevention and Community Services, CCS – Quebec Division.
Dr Jean-Claude Dessau, President of the Ministère de la Santé et des Services sociaux's Comité intersectoriel québécois sur le radon (CIQR), for his part, wants to tell people: "There are three main things to remember. Firstly, radon is a carcinogenic natural gas. It's possible to better protect your family by taking a measurement of the radon level in the house, which is easy and inexpensive. Finally, if the level is higher than the recommended limit, the situation can be corrected. Remember that Health Canada recommends these remedial measures if the concentration found exceeds the acceptable reference level of 200 Bq/m³ (Becquerels per cubic metre)."
Quebecers know very little about radon
- Only one in five Quebecers (20%) think they know what radon is very well (5%) or rather well (15%).
- Fewer than three in ten Quebecers (28%) make the connection between radon and lung cancer1.
People who'd like to know more about radon can visit the Portail santé mieux-être du gouvernement du Québec.
About the Canadian Cancer Society
With the support of 300,000 annual donors and 30,000 volunteers, the CCS is the Quebec cancer charity with the potential to save the most lives. Each year, some 135,000 Quebecers turn to it. So, the CCS does everything it can to increase the cancer survival rate, currently at 63%, to 80% by 2030.
The money raised by the CCS helps:
- prevent more cancers and demand laws that protect public health
- fund more research projects
- support more people living with cancer
Let's save more lives. Visit cancer.ca or call us at 1 888 939-3333.
Fact sheet – November 2015
FAQs about radon
What is radon?
- Radon is a radioactive gas formed from uranium present naturally in the earth's crust. Radon is found in the soil, all over the earth's surface. The quantity of radon in the soil can vary significantly from one place to another. The only way to know if there's radon in your home is to test for it.
What are radon's health effects?
- Radon enters the lungs with the air we breathe. Radon is a well-known carcinogenic agent. It emits radiation that can, in the long term, cause lung cancer.
- Radon is the second cause of lung cancer after smoking. It's also the leading cause of lung cancer in non-smokers. In Québec, 10 to 16% of deaths due to lung cancer are radon-related. This is more than 600 deaths per year.
- The factors increasing the radon-related lung cancer risk are the concentration of radon, the length of exposure to the gas and smoking.
- As for deaths from radon-related lung cancer:
- 60% occur among smokers
- 30% among former smokers
- 10% among non-smokers
How to detect radon?
- Radon concentrations can be measured using a small detector that's easy to use. The detector, called a dosimeter, must be installed during winter for a period of at least three months. A dosimeter can be bought from accredited companies or some hardware stores.
Where does radon infiltration take place?
- Radon can infiltrate building interiors through different openings:
- dirt floors
- cracks in concrete slabs or foundation walls
- drains and sumps
- crawl spaces
- openings around vent pipes and service lines, for example, pipe fittings
- taps, especially in the shower
Who should test for radon?
- All homeowners should test for radon. Neighbours' results cannot be relied upon because concentrations are usually very different from one home to another.
How to correct the situation?
- If the radon concentration is higher than 200 Becquerels/cubic meter (Bq/m³), it is preferable to contact a certified contractor for radon mitigation procedures. Among the possible remedial measures are better ventilation and sealing cracks and openings in foundation floors and walls.
1 SOM survey– Étude de notoriété du Radon (Radon awareness study), MSSS, April 2014
SOURCE Canadian Cancer Society, Quebec Division
For further information: André Beaulieu, Spokesperson and Senior Advisor, Communication, Canadian Cancer Society - Quebec Division, firstname.lastname@example.org, 514 393-3444