Liz Anderson

Council encourages home owners to test for radon

Kits are inexpensive, easy-to-use, and available at the Trail Health and Environment Community office at 1319 Bay Avenue.

Ever heard of radon gas? A becquerel? Or why it’s so important anyone living in Greater Trail to know what those words mean?

November is Radon Aware Month in Trail, aimed to up the profile on radon gas – the leading cause of lung cancer in B.C, after smoking.

The City of Trail is located in an area of the province known to be a higher risk for radon gas in homes. According to Health Canada, above 200 Bq/m3 (becquerel per cubic metre), the homeowner should take action to reduce their level. And in Trail, there are documented levels of indoor radon above the 200 Bq/m3 guideline.

Because radon gas is colourless, odourless and tasteless, the only way to know if an indoor level is high, is to test for it.  With those facts in mind, Trail council proclaimed Radon Aware Month, to get word out that the naturally occurring gas can be detected in homes with a simple radon test kit.

“The City of Trail supported the proclamation request from the Lung Association to enhance the awareness in the community to the dangers of radon as a significant cause of cancer,” says Trail Mayor Mike Martin.

“This seemed to be a great opportunity for some increased attention and to publicize the ease with which homeowners can check their own homes.”

Kits are inexpensive, easy-to-use, and available at the Trail Health and Environment Community office at 1319  Bay Avenue.

Testing services (includes analysis) are available with a $15 donation, or free, courtesy of the Donna Schmidt Lung Cancer Prevention Society.

Donna Schmidt was an active Castlegar resident before being diagnosed with lung cancer in September 2008. After she succumbed to the disease four months later, the family facilitated the radon gas testing program.

The society’s goal is to have all homes in the region tested for radon and to provide assistance to homeowners to reduce radon gas levels and thereby reduce the risk for lung cancer.

“Although I was aware of the possible presence of radon in our area, I have not heard of any detection above Health Canada guidelines and as such, previously did not pay much attention to the matter,” Martin explained. “However, this increased publicity along with the ease with which a test can be done, it makes good sense to do a check.”

The small sampling device is placed inside the home for about three months, and because windows are usually closed during the colder months, fall and winter are the ideal time to test.

If a home’s radon level is above 200 Bq/m3, remediation can include sealing cracks in the foundation and openings around pipes and drains; increasing mechanical ventilation; or active sub-slab depressurization which involves installing a pipe inside the home and venting it through the attic.

Radon mitigation is very successful and can reduce levels on average, by as much as 90 per cent, says Britt Swoveland, provincial manager of the Radon Aware campaign.

“I would like to congratulate the City of Trail for joining with many other communities across B.C. to proclaim November as Radon Aware Month,” Swoveland said, “We want the residents of Trail to known that radon testing is simple, and low cost.”

Radon is an indirect decay product of uranium, and radon gas comes from the breakdown of uranium in soil, rock and water.

A becquerel is a standard unit of measure for radioactivity and used to document levels of radon gas in homes.

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