Maritimers heeding warning about dangers of radon

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Maritimers heeding warning about dangers of radon

A CBC News report on the importance of radon testing has resulted in a jump in the number of Maritimers testing their homes for the radioactive gas, the second leading cause of lung cancer after smoking.

"It's all about raising awareness," said Robert MacDonald, spokesperson for the Nova Scotia Lung Association, which, on average, sells 100 radon test kits a month. This week, in the three days following the CBC story, it sold 175 tests.

"That's impressive," he said.

Sales were also up in the other Maritime provinces where the story aired.

Sales on the rise in N.B., P.E.I. 

The New Brunswick Lung Association sells an average of 40 tests each month. This week alone it sold 42.

"New Brunswick and Manitoba have the highest [radon] levels in the country," spokesperson Barb MacKinnon told CBC News.

"In New Brunswick, you could estimate that perhaps one in five homes might have an elevated level of radon. But every house has radon in it, so every house should test," she said.

P.E.I. saw a big leap, as well. It sells 12 tests each year. This week it sold 24.

"It's a huge jump," said Joanne Ing, spokesperson for the PEI Lung Association.

'Worthwhile to find out'

The island has one of the lowest levels of radon in the country according to a 2012 Health Canada report, but Ing said Islanders should not be complacent.

She noted some provincial government public buildings have been tested over the years and radon hot spots have been found.

"It certainly is present here and for the cost of the test, it certainly is worthwhile to find out," Ing said.

You cannot see, smell or taste radon, which is naturally occurring and seeps into homes through earthen floors or openings around pipes or cracks on the lower level.

Tests can be purchased through lung associations or at some hardware stores. They cost between $35 and $40 but those sold at hardware stores may have to pay an additional cost to get the results.

Remediation prices depend on each property and how the radon is entering. The owner of Radon Atlantic, Mike Hennessey, said the average cost is around $1,500.