The feds are warning Canadians to test their homes for radon, a gas that’s the second leading cause of lung cancer and found in 7% of homes says press reports
According to the Toronto Sun, long-term exposure to radon, which surfaces from underground, causes about 10% of lung cancer deaths, says Heather Borquez, the head of the Canadian Lung Association.
It’s second only to smoking as a major cause of lung cancer. Smokers exposed to too much radon have a one in three chance of getting lung cancer, according to Health Canada. About 20,500 Canadians died of lung cancer in 2009.
Most homes have safe levels of radon but the preliminary results of a national survey found 7% of homes have levels too high – at more than 200 becquerels per cubic metre.
Radon gas can get into homes through foundation cracks and eventually build up, especially over the winter when windows are closed and ventilation is bad.
“You can’t see it, smell it, or taste it. The only way to know if you have a radon problem is to test your home,” Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq said in a news release.
Long-term test kits are available online and in some hardware stores. They sell for about $35.
Homeowners who test too high should increase ventilation and seal all cracks and openings in foundation walls and floors, and around pipes and drains. Basement floors and walls should also be painted with two coats of paint and a sealant.
Basement floors, especially dirt floors, should be renovated to install a radon removal system, which uses a fan and piping to draw the radon from under the home and push it outside.