Winter best time to test for cancer-causing radon

After living in the same house for 12 years in Prince George, Susanne Williamson and her family moved to a different home. First thing on her to-do list? Test for radon.

The B.C. Lung Association completed one of Canada's largest community-wide indoor radon testing studies in Prince George during the 2014-15 winter. Results showed one in three homes tested above the Health Canada safety guideline.

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Aware that Prince George was known to have high radon levels, Williamson made it a priority to test her home after moving in.

"For me it wasn't a question of whether or not to test for radon," she said. "I personally know many people in Prince George that have tested and mitigated their homes. Testing is an easy thing to do and it will put my mind at ease knowing that my family will be safe in our new home."

Britt Swoveland, RadonAware manager for the BC Lung Association said every home in B.C. has radon, the question is how much.

"There is a common misperception that radon only impacts some communities. This is false. The only way to know for sure if your home has radon levels that are high risk is to test," said Swoveland. "The number of people we speak to on a daily basis from across B.C. that know nothing about radon is very worrying. This must change."

Radon is a colourless, odourless, toxic gas that comes from the breakdown of uranium in the soil. It is the leading cause of lung cancer in non-smokers, responsible for 16 per cent of lung cancer deaths in Canada.

Prince George is one of many B.C. communities where average indoor radon levels are higher than what is considered safe.

"Winter is the best time to test as most homes are sealed up," Swoveland said. "We encourage people to leave their radon tests out for at least three months to get an accurate reading, so now would be the ideal time to start testing your home before the winter months are over.

"If your levels do test above the guideline, there are solutions available. Prince George has many trained professionals that are experienced with radon mitigation."

To learn more about radon, purchase a test kit, or enter to win one of three free radon tests courtesy of AccuStar Canada, visit radonaware.ca.

The BC Lung Association tested close to 1,500 Prince George homes through their radon study, but encourages all BC residents to test regardless of their location.

"For the price of a night out to the movies, people can test their home for radon, protecting themselves and their families from a leading cause of preventable lung cancer," says Swoveland.

To learn more about radon, purchase your own radon test kit, or enter to win one of three free radon tests courtesy of AccuStar Canada visit radonaware.ca.

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