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Canadians Urged to Renovate Houses to Check Radon Gas Radiation

Exposed to radiation right inside your own home? That is a scary prospect indeed. Canadian health authorities have estimated that over 500,000 Canadians could be constantly exposed to radiation from radon gas.

Radon is a naturally occurring radioactive substance and byproduct of the decay of uranium in soils and rocks. It is considered a leading cause of lung cancer after smoking.

Unfortunately it can also build up to dangerous levels inside homes. It is such fears that have prompted Health Canada to propose to significantly lower the threshold at which homeowners should take remedial action to reduce the risk.

"After careful study, considering all the options, we came to the conclusion that, yes, it is indeed time to lower the guideline," Bliss Tracy, head of radiological impact for Health Canada, said in an interview.

Radon hot spots include Winnipeg, Nova Scotia, and British Columbia's Interior, where an estimated 60,000 residents live in homes that pose an unacceptable risk of lung cancer.

The B.C. Centre for Disease Control confirms "there are thousands of British Columbians blissfully unaware that their homes could be slowly and quietly killing them."

Health Canada estimates radon gas kills 2,000 people annually in this country, more than fires, drownings, air crashes, and accidental poisonings combined, and one-tenth of the estimated 20,000 radon deaths in the U.S.

Radon gas is odourless, colourless and tasteless; like smoking, it can take many years of radon inhalation to damage lung tissue at the DNA level and result in cancer.

"Radon is not a drop-dead-tomorrow situation," said Brian Phillips, director of radiation protection services for the B.C. Centre for Disease Control. "It's a lifetime health risk."

Residents of radon hot spots should take the issue seriously, he said. "People need to be paying attention to this one. They must make an informed judgment
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