March 6, 2015 10:38 pm

Okanagan residents urged to take action to reduce radon risk

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KELOWNA – It’s considered to be a major public health concern but few people are taking notice. Radon is a radioactive gas that can make its way into your home with deadly consequences. While there is a way to protect yourself, not many are taking the steps to do it

“It’s an amazingly large and under-recognized problem,” says Anne-Marie Nicol, a Simon Fraser University professor who has studied radon extensively.

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Radon is a naturally occurring gas formed in uranium rich soil and the Okanagan is described as a hotbed for it. Despite the valley’s uranium rich soil, the message about the related risks seems to be falling on deaf ears. Only four per cent of Canadians have had their home tested.

“People consider their home a safe place. My home is a castle and now you are telling me that there may be something in my home that may be dangerous so I think we may all be in denial,” says Nicol.

The BC Lung Association organized Friday’s workshop. They say radon is considered the number one factor for lung cancer in non smokers.

“It is considered a major public health problem,” says the B.C. Lung Association’s spokesperson Menn Biagtan. “It’s estimated that there will be 250 deaths annually due to radon induced lung cancer in B.C. and about 3,000 deaths across the country.”

Residents are urged to get their homes tested. Depending on the results, people may then have to install a pipe ventilation system to get rid of the potentially deadly build-up of gas.

To test your home for radon, you can either buy a $30 test kit at a hardware store, or hire a home inspector to do it. If the test determines a ventilation system is needed, it could cost anywhere between $500 to $3,000.

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