A map from 2012 showing the areas of the province most at risk for high levels of radon. (Radon Environmental Management Corporation photo.)

Abbotsford partners with national health coalition for radon awareness campaign

Some homes suspected to have high concentrations of the deadly radioactive gas

There may be something lethal lurking in Abbotsford basements: an invisible killer of 3,000 Canadians every year – radon.

Radon is a radioactive, invisible, odourless and tasteless gas that’s created from the breakdown of uranium in soil and rock. Although it’s present to some degree in every home, the gas becomes dangerous when built up in enclosed spaces.

November is Radon Action Month and the City of Abbotsford has partnered with a coalition of national health organizations to spread awareness of the deadly gas.

“This is a cause for concern and everyone should test their houses,” said Belinda Moen, manager of building inspections for the city of Abbotsford.

Radon is the leading cause of lung cancer in people who don’t smoke, and 16 per cent of lung cancer deaths are related to the gas, according to Health Canada.

The city and a national health coalition, Take Action on Radon, are hosting a Nov. 4 demonstration on how to install radon-reduction systems into a home. Government officials and representatives from local health and home builders’ organizations will attend the demo at a show home at 29559 Corvina Court at 9:30 a.m.

Certain areas around Abbotsford and Hope are considered to be in the high-risk zone for residential radon, says Jamie Reilly, acting director of corporate affairs for the Fraser Valley Regional District.

“Under the 2018 BC Building Code, all new buildings located at the high-risk zones (zone 1) are required to have a radon rough-in (vent pipe) for a subfloor depressurization system,” Reilly said.

A September 2018 update to Abbotsford’s municipal building code requires new construction projects to install these new radon-mitigation systems.

Buildings completed prior to the building code update could put the people inside them at risk of exposure.

“Our department can only effect change on new construction,” Moen said. “So we’re looking around to do a public awareness feature.”

Part of November’s Take Action on Radon public awareness campaign is a scientific survey called the 100 Radon Test Kit Challenge. One hundred radon test kits will be distributed on a first-come-first-serve basis at 7 p.m. on Nov. 20 at the Matsqui Centennial Auditorium.

Only eight per cent of homes in B.C. have been tested for radon and more than one million homes in Canada are estimated to have high concentrations of the gas, according to a recent study commissioned by Health Canada.

Take Action on Radon is attempting to expand the scope of radon data, detection and awareness through programs like the Test Kit Challenge, said Pam Warkentin, executive director of the Canadian Association of Radon Scientists and Technologists.

“People have done geological studies to say what’s in the soil and what the potential for radon is,” Warkentin said. “[But now,] we are putting maps together based on actual measurement data.”

Although radon was discovered in the 1950s, it wasn’t until 2004 and 2005 that research studies were released about dangerous levels in residential buildings, Warkentin said.

“Health Canada evaluated these studies in 2007 and realized that radon was a bigger issue than we previous thought for people in their homes.”

People who take part in the Test Kit Challenge will receive a radon level measurement for their home. Those individual numbers will be averaged for the creation of accurate radon maps and further scientific research.

“It really helps increase awareness. People can start to test for it and it helps us with gathering information, community by community,” Warkentin said.

People wanting to RSVP to the show-home demo or who are interested in receiving a free test kit should email: bmoen@abbotsford.ca.

RELATED: Fraser Valley winners on to national science fair

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

City of Chilliwack hopes to re-start public consultation

A new survey asks residents if they’re ready to discuss projects not related to COVID-19

UPDATE: Missing girl in Chilliwack’s Promontory neighborhood found

A 13-year-old child was missing from early Monday morning to 4:30 in the afternoon

Missing Richmond man last seen in Chilliwack

Shawn Johnson last seen on June 30 on Main Street

Double homicide investigation leads Vancouver police to Eagle Landing

A VPD forensics unit was in Chilliwack Saturday collecting evidence connected to East Van murders

Abbotsford man wins $1 million in Lotto 6/49 draw

Kenneth Giffen wins prize after deciding to stop in Agassiz gas station after fishing trip

B.C. records 62 new COVID-19 cases, two deaths since Friday

Province has just over 200 active cases

Hotel rooms for B.C. homeless too hasty, NDP government told

Businesses forced out, but crime goes down, minister says

Wage subsidy will be extended until December amid post-COVID reopening: Trudeau

Trudeau said the extension will ‘give greater certainty and support to businesses’

B.C. government prepares for COVID-19 economic recovery efforts

New measures after July consultation, Carole James says

COVID-19 exposure on Vancouver flight

The Air Canada 8421 flight travelled from Kelowna to Vancouver on July 6

VIDEO: Former Abbotsford resident giving away $1,000

Langley native Alex Johnson creates elaborate treasure hunt to give away cash

Tree planters get help with COVID-19 protective measures

Ottawa funds extra transportation, sanitizing for crews

UPDATE: Abbotsford shooting victim was alleged ‘crime boss,’ according to court documents

Jazzy Sran, 43, was believed to have been smuggling cocaine across the border

Trudeau apologizes for not recusing himself from WE decision

He says his and his family’s longtime involvement with the WE organization should have kept him out of the discussions

Most Read