With November marking Radon Action Month, the Government of Canada is raising awareness of an often-overlooked risk to Canadians’ health. Unlike other household dangers like carbon monoxide, radon doesn’t affect our health right away. It leads to lung cancer which, due to its long latency period, means the health effects from long-term exposure may not be felt for years down the road.
Homeowners across the country have been asking for support to offset the cost of reducing radon in their homes. Finally, some provinces and regions are offering grants that help cover the costs of radon mitigation for families.
“Radon gas is the leading cause of lung cancer in non-smokers, and if you smoke the combined risk is even higher. The only way to determine if your home has high levels of radon is to test. We encourage people in Canada to test their homes for radon as soon as possible and take action to reduce levels if necessary,” said Lynn Murad, senior specialist cancer prevention with the Canadian Cancer Society.
Testing is important because radon is a colorless, odourless, tasteless gas, but testing is only the first step for prevention. The federal government recommends installing a radon mitigation system if a home tests above 200 Bq/m3.
Radon mitigation systems are very effective at reducing radon levels. When installed by a C-NRPP professional, systems will be properly sized for the home making them energy efficient. Installation is straightforward and can generally be completed in a day. However, the costs can be burdensome. According to research conducted across the country, the average installation cost is approximately $3,000.
There are glimmers of hope for those with high radon levels, as long-awaited funding initiatives emerge. Grants to offset the cost of radon mitigation are now available and Health Canada recently released radon action guides detailing how new grants and support can be provided through government programming.
The Lung Association, Manitoba offers up to $1,500 for mitigation to low to moderate income families and those fighting lung cancer through their Lungs Matter program, funded in part by the Take Action on Radon initiative. This is particularly welcome in Manitoba as residents have known since the early 1990s that the province has some of the highest radon levels in Canada.
“This is a good first step and an important one towards making lasting change,” said Pam Warkentin, executive director of the Canadian Association of Radon Scientists and Technologists, “the program also provides a model that other provinces could easily adopt to get people installing systems.”
Although the Lungs Matter program started in Manitoba, the Canadian Lung Association is proud to announce that a matching program is now available for people across Canada. The application can be found through the Canadian Lung Association’s website: lung.ca.”
Ontario has a slightly different approach that covers the entire cost of the radon mitigation system for new home buyers. The Tarion Warranty provides coverage for all new homes within the first 7 years of construction. This makes testing a home in Ontario something all new buyers should capitalize on. The warranty covers all the costs, homeowners just need to provide a report from a test for radon using a long-term test by hiring a C-NRPP Measurement Professional or using a radon testing kit from a lab certified through C-NRPP.
Every Canadian province offers a different approach towards radon gas. To find out more about what your province may offer, please click here.