Radon is a gas that has no colour, odour or taste. It is produced by the radioactive decay of uranium in soil, rock and water. Radon is found in almost all parts of Canada.
- Can find its way into any building where the foundation is in direct contact with the soil
- Can get trapped indoors and accumulate to high levels
- The only way to know if a building has high levels of radon is to test
While many Canadians have never heard of radon, it is the second-leading cause of lung cancer (after smoking) and the primary cause of lung cancer among non-smokers. Additionally:
- Radon has been shown to cause lung cancer after years of exposure to high levels
- Exposure to high levels of radon over many years leads to an estimated one in 20 lifetime risk of developing lung cancer
For more information about radon's health effects, read Radon & Your Health (PDF 281KB).
In 2007, Health Canada established a health guideline of 200 Bq/m3 (Becquerels per cubic metre) for a residence. In a home where radon levels are recorded in the 200-600 Bq/m3 range, Health Canada recommends taking action to reduce the levels within two years. Health Canada recommends that radon levels over 600 Bq/m3 should be addressed within one year.
Together, Shared Services BC (SSBC), the British Columbia Lung Association and the BC Public Service Agency are promoting healthy workplaces by testing government-owned, managed and leased buildings. Radon testing was initiated by SSBC in the fall of 2015 in buildings across the province. This program will continue into the winter of 2017/2018.
If you work in a building that was tested and exceeded the Health Canada guidelines, you will receive the results and radon information from your Ministry and/or a BCPSA Occupational Safety Specialist.
Any government-occupied building that exceeds the Health Canada guidelines after testing will be mitigated (reduced or eliminated) before the following winter. The building will then be retested to make sure levels are below the recommend guideline. Testing occurs in the winter months. For more information about testing, read Radon Testing & Mitigation (PDF 256KB).