According to a Regina Leader-Post article published on Feb. 19, 2016, Saskatchewan's soil and rocks have a high uranium content. Uranium deposits are known to break down in a natural process that releases radon gas.
Radon is a concern for Saskatchewan
Radon, the second leading cause of lung cancer, seeps into homes through cracks and openings in foundations accumulating to dangerous levels in homes. Those levels increase the risk of disease for all who breathe the contaminated air.
"We know Saskatchewan has a high uranium content, so Saskatchewan is certainly a hot spot,"
says Jennifer Miller, vice-president of health promotion at the Lung Association of Saskatchewan.
"There are an estimated 750 new cases of lung cancer in Saskatchewan every year and radon is attributed to 16 percent of them," Miller said. A 2011 Health Canada cross-country survey found the highest radon levels in the Cypress, Heartland, Sunrise, and Regina Qu'Appelle regions. Miller added that levels vary. Even if a neighbor's test results indicate low levels, levels in your home could be much different.
A group called Take Action On Radon has gathered members together from government agencies, charities, and remediation firms. The Lung Association of Saskatchewan, a member of the group, started a chapter last May. Miller said that the group has a single purpose: educating the residents of Saskatchewan on the dangers of radon.
"We've come together for the sole purpose of educating the Saskatchewan public about radon," Miller stated. "We want people to test their homes," she emphasized, noting that testing is the only way to know if your home has unsafe levels of the gas. Odorless, colorless, and tasteless, high levels of this dangerous gas often go undetected without performing a test.
The best time to test, Miller said, is during the cold winter season when doors and windows remain closed. The best place to test is in the basement, or on the lowest level of the building where residents spend four or more hours per day. Test kits often require a three-month period of exposure in the home to return accurate results.
Radon measurement units are in Bq/m3, Becquerels per cubic meter. Health Canada guidelines suggest that no action is required for measurements below 200 Bq/m3. Homes with levels measuring between 200 and 600 Bq/m3 should consider repairs within two years. Those with levels exceeding 600 Bq/m3 would be well advised to schedule repairs in the next twelve months.
"Get your radon levels as low as you can," Miller advised. Simple fixes, like caulking cracks in the foundation, sealing the basement, or enclosing a sump pump can make all the difference.