Radon: A Work From Home Hazard
People working from home during the COVID-19 pandemic could be at higher risk if there is a dangerous level of radon gas in their house.
Public health officials in Chatham-Kent are working in collaboration with Take Action on Radon, a Health Canada-funded organization, to offer the 100 Radon Test Kit Challenge to detect if there is dangerous level of the odourless, tasteless and colourless gas present.
“This is the first year that Chatham-Kent is taking part” in the challenge, said Scott Dawson, Chatham-Kent public health inspector.
With so many people working from home during the COVID-19 pandemic, he said those who have a high radon gas level in their home – a leading cause of lung cancer in non-smokers – could be experiencing several more hours of exposure than normal.
Health Canada published a study in 2012 that was a cross-sectional survey across the country on radon levels in homes, he said.
“What they found for Chatham-Kent during that study, 18.4 per cent of the homes in Chatham-Kent tested were above the guidelines for radon,” Dawson said.
Long-term exposure to high levels of radon damages the DNA in lung tissue and leads to an increased risk of lung cancer, stated a media release from Take Action on Radon. As well, radon levels vary, even between neighbouring houses, meaning the only way for homeowners to determine their home’s radon level is to test for it.
“On average, 58 Canadians will die from lung cancer every day, making it the leading cause of cancer death in Canada,” said Lynn Murad, a cancer prevention specialist with the Canadian Cancer Society, in the release.
“It’s important that Canadians know they can control their risk from radon by testing their homes and reducing their exposure,” she added.
Dawson said radon gas is formed from the decay of uranium in the rock and soil that “actually creates a radioactive gas … (that) can enter into your home through holes in the foundation, sump pits, HVAC openings in your home.”
Local residents can sign up to receive a test kit by going online to www.ckpublichealth.com or by calling 519-355-1071 ext. 2902. Quantities are limited.
Dawson said Chatham-Kent Public Health follows Health Canada’s recommendation that people use a long-term radon test kit.
He added the test kit looks like a “mini hockey puck” that should be placed in the lowest occupied area of your home and left alone for three months. Afterwards, it is sent to a laboratory to test for the radon level.
“It’s completely easy, anyone can do it, and it’s really the only way to know if your house (tests) high for radon or not,” Dawson said.
If radon levels are found to be above acceptable levels, public health can refer residents to certified remediation specialists in Chatham-Kent, he said.