Renata MacQueen of Radon West is encouraging more Cochranites to take part in an ongoing “citizen scientist” study to test homes for radon levels.
According to Health Canada, radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer (after smoking); around 16 per cent of all lung cancer deaths are attributed to radon.
The odorless, tasteless and invisible gas can pose significant health risks when there is long-term exposure. The only way to determine if a home is holding high levels of the compressed gas is to test for it.
Alberta is noted to have a high geological potential for the radioactive gas – and scientists want to learn more about how at-risk Albertans are.
“There’s a lot more awareness,” said MacQueen, citing recent changes such as area school boards testing for radon and the 2015 addition of radon mitigation system rough-ins as part of the Alberta Building Code as steps in the right direction.
Radon is measured in a unit called Becqueral per metre cubed (Bq/m3); homes that test higher than 200 Bq/m3 are considered at-risk.
When MacQueen’s Cochrane home tested at an astounding 2,491 Bq/m3 and her sister and business partner Karin Dumais’ Okotoks home tested at 322 Bq/m3, it prompted both women to become certified in 2013 as Canadian-NRPP Certified Measurement and Mitigation Professionals and they started Radon West, a radon mitigation company.
The ongoing study is being conducted by the Robson DNA Science Centre through the University of Calgary, under Dr. Aaron Goodarzi.
The study is awaiting publication and cannot report findings to media.
The cost to participate in the study is $60. To learn more visit dnascience.ca/radon. Results are shared anonymously with researchers by the first three digits of postal codes only.
An awareness event organized by Radon West and the Arnie Charbonneau Cancer Institute attracted around 80 people at the RancheHouse Nov. 24.
January is National Radon Action Month.