Last updated on April 18, 2014 at 7:49 EDT

Radon, the second leading cause of lung cancer after Smoking

November 8, 2012

TORONTO, Nov. 8, 2012 /CNW/ – It is a normal reaction to try and avoid
danger when we see it.  When faced with a hazardous object it is
reasonable to stay away from it or, if possible, to remove it. When we
smell smoke, we know to check for a fire and call for help. But what if
the threat is not so easily detectable? What if it is present in our
everyday lives and we cannot see it, smell it or taste it? This is
exactly the kind of hazard that radioactive radon gas is. While
undetectable by human senses, it presents a very real danger, in fact,
it is the second leading cause of lung cancer after smoking.

Radon is a radioactive gas that occurs naturally as a result of the
breakdown of uranium in soil, rock and water. Uranium is present in
varying amounts in all soils and rocks throughout the world.  That is
why almost all homes in Canada have some radon; the question is how
much.  A recent survey of 14,000 homes, conducted by Health Canada,
revealed that an estimated 7% percent of homes have high radon levels.
Radon concentration in any individual home can only be determined by

The Radiation Safety Institute of Canada supports Health Canada’s Radon
Awareness campaign and strongly encourages all Canadians to test their
homes for radon.

How do we get exposed to radon? Produced in the ground it escapes
through porous soils and fissures in the rock of the earth’s crust. 
Once released into the atmosphere, radon gas is diluted by air so its
concentration is very low in the outdoors. However radon can seep into
buildings through cracks in the foundation, through openings around
drain pipes and sump pumps and through any other unsealed openings.
When it enters a confined or enclosed space such as a basement, it can
build to concentrations that are hazardous to human health.

Radon gas breaks down further to form other radioactive particles called
radon daughters or “progeny”. These particles attach themselves to dust
particles in the air and can be inhaled and lodged in the lungs.  The
radon daughters emit a form of radiation known as alpha particles.  The
alpha particles deposit their energy in the lungs and can cause long
term damage, in particular lung cancer. Not everyone exposed to radon
will develop lung cancer but long-term exposure, specially for smokers,
to elevated levels of radon in the home increases your risk of
developing the disease. The only way to know the radon level in your
home is to test.

Since indoor radon concentrations tend to be higher in the fall/winter
period and can significantly vary from day to day, Health Canada
recommends 90 day testing during the heating season. Health Canada has
set guidelines for radon exposure in homes and other buildings.  Indoor
radon concentrations are measured in units of radioactivity known as
becquerels per cubic meter (Bq/m(3)).( )If the average concentration in a home is greater than 200 Bq/m(3), then Health Canada advises taking remedial actions to reduce the
concentration. The higher the radon concentration the sooner action
should be taken.  Remediation is fairly simple and inexpensive, the
cost may vary from $500 to $3000.

For over a decade the Radiation Safety Institute of Canada has carried
out its National Radon Monitoring Program. The Program is run by our
National Laboratories located in Saskatoon, where  certified radon
specialists will take your radon orders, ship out the monitors, analyse
test results, communicate them to you and, most importantly, answer any
and all questions you may have about radon exposure.  The total cost of
the order and laboratory analysis is only $55 plus tax.  Your piece of
mind and your health are worth this investment. We urge you to not put
it off and order your radon test kit today!

SOURCE Radiation Safety Institute of Canada

Image with caption: “Scientists analyze radon monitors at the RSI National Laboratories. Photo: Peter Lawrence (CNW Group/Radiation Safety Institute of Canada)”. Image available at: http://photos.newswire.ca/images/download/20121108_C6314_PHOTO_EN_20368.jpg

Image with caption: “Hon. Steven W Mahoney, President and CEO of the Radiation Safety Institute of Canada (CNW Group/Radiation Safety Institute of Canada)”. Image available at: http://photos.newswire.ca/images/download/20121108_C6314_PHOTO_EN_20367.jpg

Image with caption: “The Radiation Safety Institute of Canada (CNW Group/Radiation Safety Institute of Canada)”. Image available at: http://photos.newswire.ca/images/download/20121108_C6314_PHOTO_EN_20382.jpg

Source: PR Newswire