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RADON REMINDER

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

Radon is the leading cause of lung cancer for non-smokers, yet many people do not realize the risk it poses or the need to test their homes.

With the arrival of the colder weather and local residents spending more time indoors, now is the time to take action against radon, according to the Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit. November is Radon Action Month, and it is timely for people to measure radon levels in their homes and take corrective measures if the levels are too high.

“We can’t see, smell or taste radon, so it is important to test for radon to ensure the level in a home is within safe guidelines,” says Bud Ivey, a Public Health Inspector with the HKPR District Health Unit. “Long-term exposure to high levels of radon in your home can pose health problems, including developing lung cancer.”

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. Typically, radon can seep into homes through openings such as unfinished floors, windows, pipes, sump pumps and cracks in the basement floor or foundation.

“This is typically the time of year when we spend more time indoors, so now is the perfect opportunity to check to see if radon levels in your home are within acceptable limits,” Ivey adds.

Health Canada sets the current acceptable level for the amount of radon in indoor air at 200 becquerels per cubic metre. To see if they are within the Health Canada guideline, people have two options to test radon levels in their homes:

• One way is to purchase a simple and inexpensive do-it-yourself test kit available at most hardware stores. The typical price range for a kit is $25-$175. 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.

• The second option 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.

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. Radon levels in most homes can be reduced by more than 90 per cent for about the same cost as other home repairs such as replacing the furnace or air conditioner (Ontario Lung Association).

For more information on radon, call the Health Unit at 1-866-888-4577 or click here.

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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, ext. 4228.

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