Sarnia-Lambton homes at risk for radon gas exposure

Radon is a colourless, odourless gas that enters the home via the basement.

Journal Staff

Lambton Public health is recommending local residents test their homes for the presence of radon.

Radon is a naturally occurring radioactive gas that comes from the breakdown of uranium found in rocks and soil. Long-term exposure is the second leading cause of lung cancer after smoking.

A recent Health Canada study found 8.5% of Lambton County residents live in homes with radon concentrations above the current guideline – slightly higher than the Ontario average of 8.2% and well above the national average of 6.5%.

But those numbers provide little insight into the odds of recording a higher than recommended level in your own household, said Lori Lucas, Supervisor of Health Protection.

“The location or the age of a home cannot be used to evaluate risk of exposure to indoor radon.”

Testing for radon, however, is inexpensive and easy, she said.

Test kits are available from local home improvement stores or can be purchased online at takeactiononradon.ca/test/ontario.

Colourless, odourless and tasteless, radon can enter homes any place it finds an opening where the house contacts the soil, such as cracks in foundation or floor slab, crawlspaces, floor drains, gaps around service pipes and sump holes.

The risk for lung cancer increases significantly if an individual is exposed to both high radon levels and tobacco smoke.

Health Canada recommends testing during the winter months in the lowest lived-in area of the home for a minimum of three months to obtain the most accurate results.

If a home test does find radon gas above the Health Canada guideline there are recommended ways to decrease the levels.

For more information, contact Lambton Public Health at 519-383-8331, toll-free 1-800-667-1839, or visit www.lambtonhealth.on.ca