It's the leading cause of lung cancer among non-smokers and the second leading cause among smokers and a study by the University of Calgary aims to find out the extent of radon gas poisoning in Alberta.
"It's naturally occuring, but what isn't natural is that we're building houses and schools and workplaces that basically accumulate this gas," explained Dr. Aaron Goodarzi, geneticist with the university's Cumming School of Medicine. "Radon is so dangerous it's classified as a type one cancer causing agent in the same broad category as mustard gas, benzene, tobacco and asbestos."
Goodarzi's team studied homes in the greater Calgary area to determine the levels of radioactive radon concentration.
"Homes between the 1950's to the 1990's, we found one in ten of those exceeded Health Canada's maximum acceptable guideline," he related. "Newer homes were even more alarming; in fact, one out of eight homes was particularly high for radon, in the dangerous levels."
They are now expanding the study to rural Alberta to see if the same trend holds for smaller communities. You purchase a test kit which you set up in your home for three months, then send it back for processing.
"What we now know as scientists is that our children (and) our teenagers are the most vulnerable to the negative consequences of long term radon exposure," noted Goodarzi. "Kids typically spend more time in the house than adults and so, we're encouraging everyone with young families as well as teenagers - they're also very susceptible - to test their homes for radon."
To order a radon testing kit or for more information, follow this link.
Questions, comments or story ideas? Email us at [email protected]