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TIME TO TEST

- Health Unit Encourages People to Test Their Homes for Radon Gas to Ensure Levels Are Safe -

With the arrival of the colder weather and people spending more time indoors, the local Health Unit is encouraging area residents to put their homes to the test to check for radon.

Radon is a naturally-occurring gas that is produced by the breakdown of uranium in soils and rocks. As it escapes into the environment, radon gas gets diluted and does not pose a health risk. However, in confined spaces like homes, high levels of radon gas can accumulate and become a health hazard, warns the Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit.

Radon can seep into homes through many openings, such as unfinished floors, windows, pipes, sump pumps and cracks in the basement floor or foundation. “Because people cannot see, smell or taste radon, it is important to test for radon to ensure the level in a home is within the Health Canada approved guidelines,” says Bud Ivey, a Public Health Inspector with the HKPR District Health Unit.

Long-term exposure to high levels of radon in a home can increase the risk of developing lung cancer, Ivey notes. “The only way to know if radon levels in your home are within acceptable levels is to test your home, and now is the perfect time of year to do that,” he adds.

Health Canada has revised what it considers acceptable levels of radon in a home. The current acceptable level for the amount of radon in indoor air is now 200 becquerels per cubic metre. Previously, the guideline had been four times higher than the new level.

People have two options to test radon levels in their homes. One way is to purchase a do-it-yourself test kit that is available at most hardware stores in a price range of $25-$75. Ivey stresses the importance of following the instructions for setting up the radon test and for sending it back to a lab for analysis when the testing period is over. Another option for testing radon in a home is to hire a radon measurement service provider to do the work. Here, it is important to ensure the provider is certified and will conduct a long-term test, Ivey adds.

Based on the test results, people will need to determine what actions are required to reduce radon levels in their home. The steps to do this are relatively easy and reasonably priced. According to Health Canada, some of the steps that can be taken to reduce radon include: increasing the ventilation to allow an exchange of air, sealing cracks and openings in foundation walls and floors and around pipes and drains, and renovating existing basement floors, particularly earth floors.

For more information and resources on radon, call the Health Unit at 1-866-888-4577 or visit www.hkpr.on.ca.

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For media inquiries, contact:

Bud Ivey, Public Health Inspector, HKPR District Health Unit, (613) 475-0933 or toll-free: 1-866-888-4577.

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