After overwhelming demand, more radon testing kits on the way

Yukoners snapped up radon testing kits so quickly last month that the Yukon Lung Association has already put in an order for hundreds more.

Yukoners snapped up radon testing kits so quickly last month that the Yukon Lung Association has already put in an order for hundreds more.

November was Radon Action Month. Near the end of the month the association handed out 700 free test kits so homes could be tested for the dangerous gas.

About 450 of those kits were given out at the Whitehorse Home Hardware. They were supposed to last two days.

They lasted about two hours.

“I think we just did a better job of promoting,” said association president Doug MacLean. “Plus we had a partnership this year with Home Hardware which I think might have been much more effective than what we were doing last year.”

Last year the kits were handed out at the Yukon Housing Corporation offices.

This year, when volunteers ran out of kits they started putting people’s names on a waitlist. About 550 people put their names down.

More kits have been ordered and those people should be contacted in a week or two when they arrive, MacLean said.

“Our objective is to get as many houses in Yukon tested as possible and we didn’t want to turn down people who were definitely interested.”

After these kits arrive that will be it for this year. The association only ordered enough to cover the people already on the waitlist.

Radon is a naturally-occurring gas that has no colour or odour. It comes from the breakdown of uranium in soils and rocks, according to the Yukon housing website.

Parts of Yukon are known to have high concentrations of radon. According to MacLean, the territory is one of the top three Canadian jurisdictions when it comes to radon levels.

Radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer in Canada for non-smokers.

To test for the gas, open test kits are left in a spot that is more than a meter from the floor and at least 20 cm from the wall so that air can circulate. They are designed to be left where people spend at least four hours a day.

Health Canada recommends the kits stay open for three months, MacLean said.

After that they’re mailed away for testing. Free postage and a special envelope are included with the kits.

Results come in by email a few weeks after, he said.

The World Health Organization recommends countries set radon limits in homes at 100 becquerels per cubic metre.

Health Canada has set a national guideline of 200 becquerels per cubic metre.

There are professionals in the territory who can lower the levels of radon in a home, usually by installing a small fan.

The housing corporation will help qualified Yukoners pay for the work through its home repair loan program.

More information about radon, including an interactive map showing where levels are particularly high in the territory, is available at housing.yk.ca/radon.

Contact Ashley Joannou at ashleyj@yukon-news.com

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