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‘Evict radon’, homeowners urged

Western Canadian provinces have the second-highest levels of radon in the world, and researchers are urging residents to  have their homes tested for the deadly gas.

‘Evict Radon’, a province-wide campaign to raise the level of awareness about the presence of radon gas was launched by University of Saskatchewan researchers on February 11.

Radon is a known carcinogen, and according to the Canadian Cancer Society, is the second most frequent cause of lung cancer, after tobacco smoke.

“We are launching the Evict Radon research campaign to help educate people about the effects of radon gas and encourage as many Saskatchewan residents as possible to test their homes through our research ethics board-approved national study,” said Dr. Justin Simms, a University of Saskatchewan researcher with Evict Radon, a national alliance of university scientists dedicated to engineering out Canada’s radon problem.

A recent publication by Evict Radon researchers has determined radon levels across the Canadian Prairies are second highest in the world, with 1 in 6 homes in Alberta and 1 in 3 homes in Saskatchewan containing dangerous amounts of the cancer-causing gas. Using data from 11,727 Alberta and Saskatchewan homes, the teams lead by Prairie scientists Aaron Goodarzi, David Torr and Brandy Winquist were able to determine residential radon risk levels across the region. The team found homes with high radon in every community they examined, with greatest risk reported in Regina, where 1 in 2 homes exceeded Health Canada guidelines. The study was published December 2019 in Scientific Reports.

“Radon is a significant issue in Saskatchewan, and while there is an effective patch if you have a problem now, more research is needed to understand why we have this issue in the first place, so we can fix it,” said Dr. Aaron Goodarzi, Canada Research Chair for Radiation Exposure Disease and lead researcher of Evict Radon. “It is only once we understand how radon is getting into our homes in the first place, will we be able to remedy the problem.”

The team of scientists who lead the Evict Radon study are asking for as many concerned residents of Saskatchewan as possible to sign-up to this research project, test their homes and provide the team a small set of details about their properties. Participants purchase non-profit radon kits containing ISO-certified test devices, which are quality-controlled by the team to ensure each person gets the most precise and accurate radon reading that is achievable. Researchers get the aggregated and anonymous radon data, which they use for cancer prevention research to help all Canadians.

Residents can learn more about the Evict Radon campaign and sign-up for a radon kit at www.evictradon.org. The non-profit radon kits used in the national study cost approximately $52, as this is a citizen science-based research project. For those not wishing to join the study, but who still want to radon test their home, Evict Radon strongly recommends contacting the Saskatchewan Lung Association or Saskatchewan Health Authority.

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