The province is reminding property owners to test for radon and is publishing a new online map to help identify areas with the highest potential risk of exposure.
Radon is a naturally occurring tasteless, odourless, and invisible gas that has been identified as a lung cancer risk.
Outdoors, when radon gas seeps from the ground, it mixes with fresh air and is not a health risk. But in confined spaces, it can get trapped, grow to higher levels and become a health hazard.
“The map we released today reflects information gathered over the past five years and it gives us a clearer, more accurate snapshot of where the risks are,” said Natural Resources Minister Zach Churchill. “Now, we know that four out of 10 homes in high-risk areas are likely to exceed the Health Canada guideline.”
Earlier maps had been largely based on geology. The new one uses test results from public buildings, such as schools and hospitals, and from private properties, and makes it easier to quantify the risk.
The province first started to raise awareness of the hazards of radon exposure in 2007 after Health Canada reduced its radon exposure guideline by 75 per cent. That year, the province began testing public buildings and remediating those that exceeded the Health Canada guideline.
“This is a health risk that we can do something about,” said Gary O’Toole, the province’s director of environmental health. “The only way to determine indoor radon levels is to test individual buildings, therefore property owners should test for radon, even if their property is outside a high-risk area. Then they can take any needed actions to make their homes safer.”
Testing for radon is relatively inexpensive at around $40. Remediating an average home is estimated to cost between $1,500 to $3,000, less than the cost of replacing a roof.
“It’s Lung Cancer Awareness month across Canada. Protecting your family’s health from the risk of radon exposure starts with learning more,” said Louis Brill, president and chief executive officer of the Lung Association of Nova Scotia. “This new map from the province helps raise awareness and will help homeowners pinpoint the risk so that they can take action.”
Radon test kits can be purchased from the lung association by calling 1-888-566-5864 or by ordering online at www.ns.lung.ca . Kits can also be purchased at many home improvement retailers. Alternately, certified professionals can be hired to test a property.