MONTREAL, Nov. 27, 2014 /CNW Telbec/ - Radon is responsible for 16% of lung cancer deaths, according to the Quebec Lung Association (QLA). This colourless, odourless, inert gas is a silent, invisible and unfamiliar threat, which is why CAA-Quebec and the QLA have joined forces to demystify it and put a "face" on it.
This morning, experts from CAA-Quebec Residential Advisory Services, in co-operation with their counterparts at the QLA and Health Canada, unveiled the "face" of radon using a cloud chamber specially designed for the purpose. Several sources of infiltration were also revealed to the observers at this unusual demonstration, which took place in a home on the Island of Montreal where the concentration of radon had been previously measured. The goal of the activity was to shed light on this little-known gas, but also to remind people that effective solutions to the problem exist.
Pressing need to update the Construction Code
At present, the Quebec Construction Code review process does not include any new initiatives to help owners of new homes prevent radon infiltration. CAA-Quebec finds this surprising, and believes that the review process provides a valuable opportunity to integrate simple preventive measures for new-home construction into the Code. The comments and recommendations filed with the Régie du bâtiment by CAA-Quebec and the QLA regarding the draft regulation to amend the Quebec Construction Code can be viewed online.
Radon: what is it?
Radon is a product of the natural decay of uranium in the Earth's crust. It can seep into a home through any cracks or openings in the foundation walls and slab, through crawlspaces, or through poorly sealed openings around drainage pipes. It can accumulate in large concentrations, posing a threat to the health of occupants.
"Direct exposure to radon for more than four hours per day, especially if one is a smoker, is cause for serious concern," says Dominique Massie, Executive Director of the QLA. She adds: "Radon is the leading cause of lung cancer among non-smokers; if they are exposed to high concentrations of the gas over the long term, they have a one in 20 chance of developing the disease. For smokers with that kind of exposure, the risk increases to one chance in three."
Easy to detect
Concentrations of radon in the home can be measured using an instrument specially designed for the purpose called a dosimeter. If a concentration of 200 becquerels per square metre (Bq/m3) or more is detected, Health Canada recommends that corrective work be done. The World Health Organization, meanwhile, has set benchmarks for acceptable levels starting at 100 Bq/m3.
Soil depressurization and leak sealing
"Radon remediation work can be done quickly and at reasonable cost," explains Jacques Gobeil, CAA-Quebec's Director of Residential Advisory Services. "Depending on the condition of the building, the corrective work can be as simple as sealing cracks in the foundation slab and walls, blocking off open sumps, or improving basement ventilation. Obviously, some more problematic situations will require greater attention and cost more."
Expert advice is available
A dosimeter can be purchased for a reasonably low price from CAA-Quebec or the QLA. The QLA's respiratory health professionals are available to answer any questions the public may have about the risks of radon, while the experts at CAA-Quebec's Residential Advisory Services can provide advice and assistance with any necessary remediation work.
CAA-Quebec, a not-for-profit organization founded in 1904, provides automotive, travel, residential and financial services and privileges to its 1,290,000 members.
About the Quebec Lung Association
The Quebec Lung Association, founded in 1938, is a non-profit organization that works to combat respiratory disease through prevention, education, help for affected patients, and support for research.
For further information: Anne-Sophie Hamel, Communications Advisor and Spokesperson, CAA-Quebec, Tel.: 514 861-7111, ext. 5478, Cell: 514 717-4040, [email protected]