Sales of radon testing kits have skyrocketed in New Brunswick, after a successful flyer campaign from Health Canada.
The flyer, which was distributed across Canada, warned about the risks of radon — a radioactive gas that has no smell, is colourless and tasteless.
“That flyer was very, very effective. We started to get a lot of orders on our website and by phone,” said Barbara MacKinnon, president and CEO of the New Brunswick Lung Association.
Radon gas is the number one cause of lung cancer for non-smokers and it can often seep into homes undetected.
“It can enter your home through any sorts of cracks in your foundation,” said Melanie Langille, a Fredericton resident and environmental scientist.
Langille and her family moved into a bungalow last August and she wasted no time setting up her long-term radon test kit in the basement of her house.
“We wanted to understand what the levels were in the house,” she said. “We’ve got two young children and we wanted to make sure that we are taking any measures that we can to protect their lung health.”
According to Health Canada, all homes have some level radon in them. But since radon levels fluctuate, it’s best to perform the test for a minimum of three months.
They also advise conducting the test during fall and winter months, when windows and doors are usually kept closed.
“It’s better to know what you have than to be in the dark,” said Tom Langille, Melanie’s husband.
The kit is then sent to a laboratory for analysis. The higher the radon concentrations, the sooner action should be taken to minimize the levels present.
If your level is between 200-600 becquerels (Bq) per cubic meter, you are advised to fix you home within two years. Measurements above 600 Bq require attention within one year.
“The laboratory measures it based on the radiation that goes onto a film in the detector,” said MacKinnon.
“When we get the results back, we’ll see if we are above the guideline of 200 Bq per cubic meter. If we are, we definitely plan to contact a professional and install a mitigation system.”
If your levels are above the guidelines, a certified radon mitigator can put a system in your basement to depressurize your home.
“When they de-pressurize your house you should be able to have radon levels that are the same as outdoor air,” said MacKinnon