Radon testing hits home for Revelstoke Director

Friday, January 11, 2019

Awareness of the health risks associated with radon gas was on the minds of all Columbia Shuswap Regional District (CSRD) Directors at the Thursday, January 10 Regular Board Meeting.

But the information presentation to the CSRD struck a personal note for Revelstoke Municipal Director and Mayor Gary Sulz. 

Radon is a tasteless, odourless radioactive gas produced by the decay of uranium naturally present in the rock and soil. Outdoors, radon levels are low, but the gas can enter buildings through openings in the foundation, making indoor levels much higher, especially in basements and lower floors.

Exposure to radon gas is known to cause lung cancer -- it is the leading cause of lung cancer in non-smoking Canadians.

The only way to know if radon is present in your home is to test.

And that is what Sulz did in his Revelstoke residence. The Health Canada guideline is that remedial measures should be undertaken in a dwelling whenever the average annual radon concentration exceeds 200 Bq/m3 in the normal occupancy area.

Sulz's home tested at 4500 Bq/m3.

"I'm like the poster child for radon testing," says Sulz, who was visibly emotional as he described how his father-in-law, who lived in that home for much of his life, died of lung cancer.

"We will never know the exact cause, but I have vowed to mitigate my home to protect my family, my grandchildren."

In the year since the home was tested, Sulz has conducted mitigation measures including venting measures so the radon cannot build up inside the home. Tests now show the home as in the acceptable range.

The presentation, made jointly by representatives from Health Canada, CAREX Canada and Little Bear Engineering, emphasized the need for public awareness of this health concern and for property owners to conduct radon testing.

The costs associated with radon mitigation is similar to other home maintenance projects, like installing a furnace or air conditioner.

"It was not invasive to have it done and the costs was not that expensive, especially when it comes to the safety of your family," says Sulz. "I would say, get it checked out."

As part of the initiative to spread public awareness of radon, the same organizations that hosted this presentation will be hosting a free public information session in Salmon Arm on Monday, January 14. Residents can join the 100 Test Kit Challenge and receive a free radon test kit. The session will be held at Okanagan College, Room 130 from 7:00 PM to 9:00 PM.

Register for the session at www.eventbrite.ca under Salmon Arm 100 Radon Test Kit Challenge.