Daycares should have mandatory radon testing, Yukon NDP says

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4 Yukon schools being remediated for radon concentration

The Yukon NDP says the government needs to take radon exposure more seriously, when it comes to daycares and day homes for small children.

Party leader Liz Hanson says there should be mandatory testing at all licensed facilities.

"I'm surprised that when it comes to a health and safety issue like testing for radon, that that's not something that the government would as a matter of fact do, and then confirm that the test has been done."

The territorial government earlier this week announced it's testing all schools for radon, this winter. Daycares and private day homes are not included.

"They say it's not their responsibility, and my response to that is you licence them, why is it not a condition of licensing?" Hanson said.

Health officials have said radon testing is not a condition of licensing in any Canadian jurisdiction.

"I just think it would be a simple thing for the department of health and social services to add to their checklist that they currently have, and I don't understand why it's not there."

Second-leading cause of lung cancer

Radon is a radioactive gas that is slowly released from the ground, water and some building materials. When it accumulates in an enclosed space, it can become a health hazard.

According to Health Canada, radon is the second-leading cause of lung cancer after smoking. On average, about 16 per cent of lung cancer deaths in Canada can be attributable to radon exposure.

Russ Hobbis, a Whitehorse parent who's been an advocate for children's welfare in the Yukon school system says children and their caregivers deserve protection.

"We need to start with the testing and then if the levels are outside of what is acceptable, then remediation needs to be done," he said.

The most common way to reduce radon concentrations is by constructing an opening, with a fan to push the radon gas outside.  

Hanson notes that radon testing kits are available for through a program offered by the Yukon Lung Association and Yukon Housing. 

"We need to make sure that our daycares and our family day homes, where we place our children, should be the best places and the healthiest places. And I don't think that anybody who's operating one of theses facilities would disagree with that," she said.