Okanagan has hotter spots for deadly radon gas than Kamloops | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Okanagan has hotter spots for deadly radon gas than Kamloops

A radon test kit is pictured in this undated photo from Wikimedia Commons.

Radon is a deadly cancer-causing gas that has high concentrations in some Okanagan cities.

Health Canada recently mailed notices suggesting people test their homes for radon gas. Those mail-outs included homes in the Lake Country postal code but Vernon has some of highest readings in the Valley.

The Kamloops region, on the other hand, shows consistently low readings.

“The postcards have been delivered to approximately 1.5 million homes across Canada and mostly targeting areas with higher radon concentrations,” Yalda Yavari, regional radiation specialist with Health Canada told iNFOnews.ca in an email. “However, it is recommended that all homeowners test their homes for radon to ensure they’re not exposed to high radon levels.”

The mail-outs are part of an ongoing campaign to raise awareness of the health dangers of the gas.

Radon is a naturally occurring radioactive gas that is considered by Health Canada to be the second leading cause of lung cancer deaths behind tobacco. It can seep in through basements and build up in homes, especially when windows are kept closed in the winter.

The National Radon Program did a voluntary testing of homes in all Canadian health regions from 2009 to 2011. Those results, listed by postal code, are available online here.

Health Canada suggests that owners of homes with readings above 200 (becquerels per cubic meter) take remedial action.

Areas where more than 15 per cent of tested homes came in above 200 are considered radon hot spots, Yavari said.

Parts of Vernon certainly qualify for that ranking.

Vernon West (postal code starting with V1H) had four of 7 tests (57 per cent) coming in higher than 200. Two were over 1,000, peaking at 1,400. No other Thompson or Okanagan readings were close to 1,000.

Vernon East (V1B) came in with three of 16 tests being over 200 (19 per cent). Vernon Central (V1T) had only one of 10 tests over 200.

Lake Country had 100 per cent of its tests reading over 200, but that was only two tests.

In Kelowna, only two of six postal codes (Kelowna Southeast - V1W and Kelowna East Central – V1X) had readings of more than 200.

West Kelowna had one of two readings above 200, Penticton one of 16 tests and the South Okanagan three of nine.

None of the Kamloops postal codes showed any readings above 200.

Radon kits can mostly be purchased online for about $50 and need to stay in place for a 90 to 100 days, preferably in the winter. More information can be found here.

Free radon test kits were made available to Summerland residents last fall.

Remedial action is not cheap. It means venting the gas out of the basement and can cost $2,500 to $3,000.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Rob Munro or call 250-808-0143 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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