The province announced Thursday that it wants to help families protect themselves from the risks of radon by making it easier to test for the radioactive gas.
Radon is odourless, colourless and is linked to an increased risk of developing lung cancer. It forms naturally throughout the province and is released slowly by the breakdown of uranium in soil, rock, water and some building materials.
READ MORE: What you should know about radon gas
In partnership with the Lung Association of Nova Scotia, the province said it will invest $30,000 in the Radon Detector Library Loan Program. Under the program, people can borrow a device from their local library and get a radon level reading in their home.
“Our geoscientists play an important role in providing Nova Scotians with up-to-date information about our geology and areas that are at higher risk for radon and other hazards,” Energy and Mines Minister Derek Mombourquette said in a media release. “This investment will make sure more people have the ability to protect themselves and their families.”
In some locations, the waiting list to borrow a detector is up to eight months. According to the province, the new investment is expected to cut the wait in half.
“Radon exposure is the second leading risk factor for lung cancer behind smoking. It is important that homeowners know the level of radon in their home and the way to do this is to test. The library loan program makes it easier for Nova Scotians to do that,” said Dr. Robert Strang, Nova Scotia’s chief medical officer of health.
The investment will also buy 100 more devices, bringing the total number of detectors available at libraries across the province to more than 250.
The Radon Detector Library Loan Program started in 2017 and according to Dave MacNeil, manager of access at Halifax Public Libraries, interest has only continued to grow.
Lawrence Englehart is a property inspector and is Health Canada certified radon inspector licensed under the C-NRPP (Canadian National Radon Proficiency Program) and says testing is best done during the winter months, and if high levels of radon are found, there are effective and feasible ways to protect yourself and your home.
“An H-R-V or heat recovery ventilation system can work and reduce radon levels by 50 percent,” said Engleheart.
There are other mitigation measures to protecting your home, like installing a sub-slab-depressurization system, which Engleheart said can be installed for homes with higher radon levels.
“They (the contractor) will core a four-inch hole into the basement floor and excavate the soil and hookup an industrial vacuum and suck all the air from under the house,” says Englehart. “And that will reduce radon levels by up to 90 percent.”
According to the province, radon is believed to be responsible for killing more than 3,200 Canadians each year.
Radon test kits can also be purchased at the nova scotia lung association.