Keep Your Family Safe by Testing for Cancer-Causing Radon Gas

Peterborough Public Health is giving away free radon test kits while supplies last to raise awareness about this public health risk that is the second-leading cause of lung cancer in Ontario.

“Radon is responsible for anywhere from 1,080 to 1,550 cancer cases in Ontario each year. This colourless, odourless gas can build up in lower levels of buildings unbeknownst to those living there,” said Dr. Rosana Salvaterra, Medical Officer of Health. “We strongly encourage residents to learn more about how to test their homes to keep their families safe.”

Peterborough Public Health has approximately 400 radon kits available at no cost to residents within the City and County of Peterborough and Hiawatha and Curve Lake First Nations, on a first come, first serve basis. Residents are advised to obtain a kit by visiting Peterborough Public Health reception on the third floor at 185 King St. in Peterborough. Residents who are unable to pick up a kit are encouraged to call 705-743-1000, ext. 232 to make alternative arrangements.

“Testing for radon is easy, just put the detector in the lowest lived-in level of your home, and leave it there for three months,” explained Wanda Tonus, Public Health Inspector. “Once the test period is finished, residents are asked to return the kit to Peterborough Public Health and we will arrange for shipping to the lab.” Ms. Tonus noted that residents will receive their test results directly from the lab and they can call Peterborough Public Health once they receive them to discuss ways of reducing radon in their home if it is detected above 200 Bcq/m3 (becquerels per cubic meter, the unit used to measure radon gas in the air).

Radon is a naturally occurring, radioactive gas that comes from the breakdown of uranium found in rock and soil. It can enter buildings through cracks in foundation floors and walls, gaps in service pipes, open floor drains, or any other area of exposed soil. The likelihood of a radon problem cannot be predicted by the age or location of a home; all homes are at risk.

Long term exposure to high levels of radon greatly increases your risk of lung cancer. According to a 2016 Public Health Ontario report entitled The Environmental Burden of Cancer in Ontario, more than 1,000 new cancer cases diagnosed in Ontario per year are attributable to exposure to radon in indoor air. Public education, testing of homes, and remediation as appropriate, are all important steps to be taken to reduce the burden of radon as an environmental carcinogen.

More information about radon is available at www.peterboroughpublichealth.ca/radon.

For further information, please contact:
Wanda Tonus
Public Health Inspector
705-743-1000, ext. 285