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High levels of radon gas detected in Weyburn homes: study

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High levels of the radioactive gas radon have been detected in the Weyburn area, a new study by Take Action on Radon shows.

A total of 117 houses were tested with results showing 55 per cent of the homes tested above Health Canada’s guideline of 200 Becquerel.

Thirty-nine per cent of homes tested were between 100-200 Becquerel and six per cent tested under 100 Becquerel, according to the study.

The test results cover approximately three per cent of the total households in Weyburn.

The City of Weyburn hopes that the study will educate residents and persuade them to get further testing done or install a radon system.

“We want to educate our residents about the possible consequences of this and the more education we have as a city helps us facilitate and helps our residents understand this,” Jennifer Wilkinson said, who is the director of engineering for the City of Weyburn.

The gas comes from the breakdown of uranium which is found everywhere naturally in the earth's crust, meaning every home and building in contact with the ground will have some radon in it.

“Southern Saskatchewan is a world hotspot for radon and the city of Regina is the worst place in the world for this problem,” Frank Kirkpatrick, owner of Master Radon, said.

According to Health Canada, long term exposure of radon can have your negative effect on your health.

“Long term exposure to radon is the number one cause of lung cancer if you don't smoke, and the second leading cause of lung cancer,” Kelly Bush, who works at Health Canada’s radiation protection bureau, said.

Bush also said the tests are a good source of data to then pursue changes to building codes to reduce radon in communities with high exposure.

“Ensure that future homes have less radon, and then work to make sure that people who live in communities (that) have high levels have access to certified mitigators who can come in and install radon mitigation systems,” Bush explained.

If a household experiences results between 200 and 600 Bq/m3, Health Canada recommends taking steps to reduce the radon level within 2 years.

For results greater than 600 Bq/m3, Health Canada recommends taking steps to reduce the level within one year.

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