Study encourages all Albertans to test homes for cancer-causing radon gas
Cumming School of Medicine researchers are launching a provincewide campaign to encourage all Albertans to have their homes tested for radon gas — for their own safety and to help map household radon throughout the province. Radon is a known carcinogen. According to the Canadian Cancer Society, radon is the second most frequent cause of lung cancer, after cigarette smoking.
“We are launching the Evict Radon awareness campaign to educate people about the effects of radon gas and encourage as many Albertans as possible to test their homes while also gathering data for medical research,” says Aaron Goodarzi, PhD, assistant professor in the departments of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology and Oncology and a member of the Arnie Charbonneau Cancer Institute. “We’ve proven radon is prevalent throughout southern Alberta and in Calgary area homes. Now we want to expand our research to include all areas of the province.”
Goodarzi and team tested radon levels in more than 2,300 Calgary and area homes. One in eight homes exceeded Health Canada’s acceptable radon levels. The study was published March 29, 2017, in CMAJ Open.
That study deeply affected Erin Dowell, a mother living in the Bridgeland community of Calgary.
“After I read an article about the prevalence of radon gas in Calgary homes, I immediately had our house tested. The radon gas levels were between 2.5 and four times higher than Health Canada’s acceptable limits. Since I have two young children at home, the news of my very high radon levels hit me even harder,” she says. “I had our house mitigated by a certified radon gas company. Now radon gas levels are well below acceptable levels.”
“Radon is a significant issue in Alberta, and while there is an effective solution, the subject is embedded with scientific technical language,” says Brent Alexander, chair of the Alberta Real Estate Foundation that is providing funding for the campaign. “The Evict Radon awareness campaign will clearly communicate the value of testing for radon and mitigation to all Albertans which will result in healthier homes across our province.”
Goodarzi says now is the best time to test for radon. “The winter months, now to April, are the ideal time to test your home for radon. That’s when we spend more time inside, and due to the cold our homes are sealed up tight — the perfect conditions for radon exposure,” he says.
Learn more about the Evict Radon campaign and sign up for your radon kit at www.evictradon.ca. The radon kits used in the study cost $60.