Winter months in Trail area, ideal to test for radon gas

Radon tests in the Trail area have shown indoor levels up to three times higher than Health Canada’s safety guideline.

Liz Anderson

Sure the Radon Aware Campaign runs in November, but the invisible gas doesn’t poof into thin air just because the 11th month is over.

Radon tests in the Trail area have shown indoor levels up to three times higher than Health Canada’s safety guideline, says Britt Swoveland, manager for RadonAware.

But why should you care?

The radioactive gas is covert. It’s tasteless, odorless, and can accumulate in homes year round.

More importantly, take smoking out of the equation, and radon gas becomes the leading cause of lung cancer in B.C.

So there’s good news to encourage all locals to test for radon gas in December Interior Health has donated 44 radon kits to THEC (Trail Area Health & Environment Committee) and the City of Trail in a healthy push for homeowners and municipalities to test their buildings before the end of 2016.

“Trail was very proactive last year, and it would be great to see the community educated on this public health issue once more,” Swoveland told the Trail Times. “BC Lung Association test results from Trail indicate levels of indoor radon as much as three times higher than the Health Canada safety guideline of 200 Bq/m3 (becquerel per cubic metre).

“Given these results it’s important for all Trail and area homes, workplaces and schools be tested for radon over the winter,” she added. “We’re seeing a surge of interest in testing throughout the Kootenays as we learn more about the risk of this serious public health issue. The good news is testing is easy and low cost and solutions exist to remediate if a home has high levels.”

A radon awareness campaign in 2015 resulted in 74 Lower Columbia residents testing their homes, noted Ruth Beck, manager of the Trail Area Health & Environment Program.

“We’d like to beat that number this year. said Beck.

To pick up a test kit courtesy of IH, visit the Trail Area Health & Environment Program Office at 1319 Bay Avenue. There is a suggested $15 donation to the Donna Schmidt Memorial Lung Cancer Prevention Society for the kits. The Society will provide tax receipts for all donations.

Mike Adams, THEC member and team leader with Interior Health’s Healthy Built Environment Team encourages all residents to get their homes tested.

“Radon levels can differ significantly from building to building so it’s important to test,” he emphasized. “There are several ways to reduce radon in homes starting with simple steps such as sealing cracks around foundation walls, floors, pipes and drains, to improving ventilation, to installing a radon reduction system. Always retest after making any improvements.”

Test kits are also available through Radon Aware. In partnership with the BC Lung Association, the organization is giving away three test kits a month to encourage all B.C. homeowners to test for radon gas. Visit radonaware.ca for more information.

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