It’s a colourless, odourless, and tasteless gas.
It’s the number one cause of lung cancer for non-smokers in Canada.
Despite the grave health risks it poses, this naturally occuring radioactive gas called radon is not widely known.
Just over half or 54 percent of Canadian households reported that they had heard of radon.
This was revealed in a households and environment survey by Statistics Canada.
According to the federal agency, 63 percent of those who reported that have heard of radon were able to identify the correct description of the gas when asked to pick from a list.
Statistics Canada released the results of the survey done in 2019 on Tuesday (December 1).
The poll results indicated that awareness about radon is rising from the 49 percent level in 2017.
In 2019, Statistics Canada reported, six percent of non-apartment households that had heard of radon indicated that they had “tested for radon at some point in the past”.
Of these households, 85 percent had tested within the previous 10 years, according to the agency.
About eight perent of households that had tested their home reported that a problem had been found, Statistics Canada stated.
According to Lung Cancer Canada, the Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Surgeon General estimate that around 21,000 lung cancer deaths every year in the U.S. are attributable to radon exposure.
The charitable organization also notes online that Health Canada estimates radon-induced lung cancer deaths make up to approximately 16 percent of all lung cancers in Canada.
Moreover, around 3,200 Canadians die annually because of radon exposure.
Citing an estimate by the World Health Organization, Lung Cancer Canada notes that approximately 189,000 of the 1.4 million people that die annually from lung cancer got sick because of radon.
According to Statistics Canada, radon tends to accumulate in basements and crawlspaces.
“After smoking, it is the second-leading cause of lung cancer in Canada,” the agency stated.
Health Canada explains online that radon comes from the “breakdown of uranium in soil and rock”.
When released from the ground into the outdoor air, radon is “diluted and is not a concern”.
“However, in enclosed spaces, like homes, it can accumulate to high levels and become a risk to the health of you and your family,” Health Canada advises.
Health Canada recommends buying a test kit or hiring a professional to do the test. To take action, click here.