The 100 Radon Test Kit Challenge for Canada

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Wednesday, November 28, 2018
Leela Steiner and Anne-Marie Nicol

Public health professionals often find radon a challenging exposure to address, mostly because it is up to home owners to decide if they want to test. This issue is compounded by the fact that the large majority of the public is unaware that radon is a health risk to begin with – and that it’s the second leading cause of lung cancer in Canada. While increasing awareness is critical, public education can only go so far. There is still a practice gap: how can we connect communities, practitioners, and the public at large to the test kits themselves? This process can be difficult for a number of reasons, including cost and the ability to distribute these kits in more remote regions. 

One solution being offered this year during Radon Action Month is the inaugural “100 Radon Test Kit Challenge”, a new pilot project of the Take Action on Radon program. Supported by Health Canada, the “challenge” provides 100 free radon test kits to communities interested in testing homes in higher radon regions. Public health practitioners, environmental health officers, municipality staff or non-profit groups can apply to access kits for their region.

Where can people apply to take part?

You can apply on-line, but apply soon as there is a limit to how many test kits can be provided this year. Each challenge community will appoint a local champion to organize and distribute the kits to homeowners and follow up after 91 days to ensure the kits get to the lab for analysis.

Is testing difficult?

The kits are certified by Health Canada and are easy to deploy: simply open up the plastic bag, remove the small, non-toxic radon test kit, record the date, and wait at least three months to get an accurate result. Test kits are placed in basements or on the ground floor in areas where people spend more than four hours per day, such as bedrooms or living rooms. Once testing is complete, kits can be collected and returned or people can mail their kits directly to a lab.

What’s next?

Pam Warkentin, one of the leads of the Take Action on Radon program, is optimistic about the potential that the challenge offers: “With the 100 Radon Test Kit Challenge we are hoping to see an increase in the number of municipalities talking about radon. We hope the program gives them the tools they need to get started on reducing radon exposure.” More testing provides real evidence about the radon levels in communities and can help to get radon on the health protection agenda. Too little is currently being done, and often this is because local data is lacking. More testing provides real evidence about the radon levels in communities and can help to get radon on the health protection agenda.

For more information about the program and how you can apply see:

If you’re looking for more information on radon and radon resources for public health professionals, visit the NCCEH’s Topic Page.

The NCCEH has also recently released a new video that illustrates why radon is a problem, how people are exposed, and what public health professionals can do to reduce radon exposure and help prevent cancer. You can view the video here.