City proclaims November as Radon Aware Month

Prince George residents are encouraged to be radon aware in November.

Following an early October presentation to city council by a representative of the B.C. Lung Association, the city has proclaimed November as Radon Aware Month.

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Radon, a naturally occurring, colourless and odourless gas, is caused by the breakdown of uranium in soil and rocks. According to the BC Lung Association, radon is the leading cause of lung cancer death in Canada among non-smokers. The gas can enter anywhere a building comes in contact with soil, including construction joints, gaps around service pipes, window casements, floor drains or cracks in foundation walls.

A study by the association's RadonAware campaign carried out between April and July last year suggests that nearly 30 per cent of Prince George homes have radon levels higher than Health Canada's guideline of 200 becquerels/cubic metre, with a high percentage of these in the V2M postal code area. A becqueurel measures the amount of radioactivity decay in radon gas.

"The best prevention against radon gas is to know if radon is coming into your home or place of work," said Dr. Sandra Allison, Northern Health's chief medical officer, in a press release. "That is why we encourage people to test their homes and talk to their employers about testing their buildings. Knowing is the first step to be able to protect you and your family."

Throughout November, the city will be selling radon detection kits for a discounted price of $16. The kits can be purchased at the Service Centre at city hall beginning Nov. 1, while supplies last.

Radon detection kits are typically sold online from radaonaware.ca for about $30 (plus shipping).

Northern Health's Public Health Protection Office on the fourth floor of the Prince George Native Friendship Centre (1600 Third Ave.) is also selling test kits.

New homes are tested for radon as part of an ongoing city pilot project, where test kits are distributed to new homeowners by building officials and contractors during final building inspections.

As of last December, new provisions in the B.C. Building Code require that all new homes must include a radon vent pipe.

The city is also conducting radon testing at all of its civic facilities.

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