Read up on Radon - CMA and Canadian Lung Association advise Canadians to get their house tested
OTTAWA, Nov. 9 /CNW/ - The Canadian Medical Association and the Canadian Lung Association have joined forces with Health Canada to raise awareness among Canadians of the effect radon exposure can have on their health.
Radon is a naturally occurring, colourless, odourless radioactive gas that can, in enclosed spaces such as basements, reach sufficient levels to be harmful to human health. Formed by the breakdown of uranium, radon is present in all soil. Radon can enter a home through dirt floors, cracks in concrete, sump holes, joints and basement drains etc.
"Many Canadians are not aware of the risks from residential radon gas and what they can do to stay healthy," noted Dr. Jeff Turnbull, president of the CMA. "With winter approaching, physicians want to make sure their patients are aware of this potential health hazard."
Long-term exposure to residential radon is responsible for about 10 per cent of lung cancer deaths. The combination of smoking and long term-radon exposure drastically increases the risk of lung cancer.
"The link between smoking and lung cancer is well known, however not many are aware of the link between radon and lung cancer. Long-term exposure to radon can lead to lung cancer, especially for those who smoke or are exposed to second-hand smoke in their homes," says Heather Borquez, CEO and president of the Canadian Lung Association.
In the open air, radon gas is diluted to low levels and does not pose a health risk, but in enclosed spaces such as a home, radon can reach sufficient levels to be harmful to human health. The higher the concentration, the more quickly remedial action should be taken. Radon detectors and radon test kits are available through retail outlets. Health Canada recommends that homes be tested for a minimum of three months, ideally between September and April when windows tend to be closed.
"Health Canada is pleased to work with the Canadian Medical Association and the Canadian Lung Association to help educate Canadians about the health risks of radon," said the Honourable Leona Aglukkaq, Minister of Health. "We encourage Canadians to test their homes for radon and take action if necessary."
Fact sheets about the health risks and how to test your home for radon have been distributed to physicians' offices and clinics across the county. Additional resources and a video on how to test for radon in the home can be found on the Health Canada website www.healthcanada.gc.ca/radon.
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