High levels of radon found in ‘alarming’ percentage of KFL&A homes

According Kingston, Frontenac, and Lennox & Addington (KFL&A) Public Health, over half of the homes tested in KFL&A have radon levels above World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines, leaving residents at risk of lung cancer.

KFL&A Public Health analyzed the results of 1,047 radon tests of homes in the area from November 2018 to February 2019, and found that many homes tested were above Health Canada and/or WHO guidelines.

Health Canada recommends radon mitigation for homes tested above 200 becquerels per cubic metre (Bq/m3). 223 (21%) of homes tested in KFL&A had radon levels above 200 Bq/m3.

548 (52%) homes tested were found to be above the WHO guideline, which recommends radon mitigation for homes above 100 Bq/m3.

According to Dr. Kieran Moore, KFL&A Public Health’s Medical Officer of Health, the findings were “particularly alarming for the KFL&A region as the proportion of homes that were found with high levels of radon in indoor air is almost five times the provincial average.”

“Any radon level above 100 Bq/m3 represents a statistically significant increase in lifetime relative risk of lung cancer for those chronically exposed,” Dr. Moore added. Radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer in Canada after tobacco smoke.

Radon cannot be detected without a test: it is invisible and has no smell or taste. A naturally occurring radioactive gas, Radon comes from the breakdown of uranium found in rocks and soils. It can enter buildings through cracks in foundation floors and walls, gaps in pipes, open floor drains, or any other area of exposed soil. In confined spaces like a home, radon can build up to high levels becoming a health risk.

There is no way to predict a home’s radon levels based on age or location. All homes are at risk and should be tested for radon. Radon mitigation can significantly reduce radon concentrations.

How to test for radon: 

  • Test your home. Radon testing is simple and inexpensive.
  • Allow the test to measure radon levels during the winter months for a minimum of 91 days.
  • If your home has tested high for radon, take action to lower the radon level.
    • If levels are 100 to 200 Bq/m3 consider taking action to lower radon levels.
    • If levels are 200 to 600 Bq/m3 take action to lower radon levels within the next two years.
    • If levels are above 600 Bq/m3 take action to lower radon levels within one year.

KFL&A Public Health recommends consulting a certified mitigation specialist to lower radon levels, and will be selling low cost radon tests in November 2019.

KFL&A Public Health is working with local municipalities to address radon and support mitigation strategies. The City of Kingston is responding accordingly with a radon mitigation strategy as per the Ontario Building Code. The strategies will be presented to council at a Tuesday, September 3, 2019 meeting and will outline requirements for building code compliance for new construction of low-rise residential permits applied for after Wednesday, August 31, 2019 to mitigate radon buildup.

Kingston Residents can learn more on the City of Kingston’s website at CityofKingston.ca/RadonMitigation. Loyalist Township is also proactively addressing radon gas in new low-rise residential dwellings through its new Soil Gas Mitigation Program.

To learn more about radon, including potential health risks and how to reduce radon levels in your home, visit kflaph.ca/radon.

One thought on “High levels of radon found in ‘alarming’ percentage of KFL&A homes

  • My home was one of the ones tested and came back with a high reading. Obviously this is a concern for me due to the health risk and I would like to address it and get it fixed. I am concerned more so as I am at high risk for Lung Cancer even though I don’t smoke. I’ve had 2 sibling pass away in the last 2 years from Stage 4 lung cancer and they didn’t live near me. I previously lost an Aunt as well. Unfortunately I was told that the cost could be upwards of $2500, which I can not afford. It would be nice if the city offered a rebate or some financial help so people like me could get it fixed.

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