Michael Jessen

Michael Jessen

Radon worth testing for in some Nelson homes

The West Kootenay is a known hot spot for the colourless, odourless gas that can cause cancer — radon.

The West Kootenay is a known hot spot for the colourless, odourless gas that can cause cancer — radon.

And while Nelson doesn’t seem to have as much of the radioactive gas that naturally occurs when uranium in the soil and rocks break down, it is worth paying attention to.

“There are pockets,” said Michael Jessen, the Nelson director with the BC Lung Association.

He suggests people who live in areas where soil and gravel have been disturbed test the air quality in their homes just to be sure.

“We go about our daily lives without knowing it’s there,” said Jessen. “There’s no panic about it but as with many things, we should err on the side of caution.”

Radon detectors are available from the Regional District of Central Kootenay offices for a small donation. Jessen explained testing should occur in the area of the house where owners spend eight hours or more per day. If this is on the home’s lower level, the detector should be placed at ground level. Testing should be done for three months.

“It’s best to do it in winter months when doors and windows are most likely to be closed,” he said.

Radon is the second highest source of cancer to cigarettes smoking. It has significant effects on health damaging lung cells that could then turn cancerous when they reproduce. The risk depends on both the level of radon and the length of exposure. In combination, radon and cigarette smoke have an alarming impact.

“A person who is a heavy smoker and has exposure to radon, above allowable limits, they have a one in three chance of getting lung cancer,” said Jessen.

New guidelines for acceptable levels of radon in a home are 200 Becquerels per cubic metre. This is down from the former 800 Bq per cubic metre. The BC Lung Association said at that level “the risk for a non-smoker is higher than for all common accidental deaths combined.”

“If we take precautions against accidental deaths by wearing seatbelts and lifejackets and by ensuring that our smoke detectors are working, we should also be testing our homes for radon.”

If radon is found at unacceptable levels in one’s home, remediation can help. From allowing for air exchange, to sealing cracks in the foundation and floors, work can cost anywhere from $50 to $3,000. Fixing the problem protects the value of the home.

Jessen volunteers with the BC Lung Association because of concerns about poor air quality its impact on health.

“If you can’t breath, nothing else matters,” he said. “Clean air is so vital to our health.”

In addition to cigarette smoke and radon, other causes of bad air include pollution from automobiles, backyard burning and wood stoves, explained Jessen.

“Just because we’re not in the Lower Mainland doesn’t mean cars aren’t causing bad air,” he said. “If 10,000 cars pass through, that’s all that’s needed for lung problems. There are 18,000 vehicles passing through Nelson at the peak on a summer’s day.”

Jessen said ICBC has 10,000 registered vehicles in a six mile radius around Nelson.

For more information on radon and testing ones home, check out www.bc.lung.ca or www.healthcanada.gc.ca/radon

For more preventative information on various health issues, there are ongoing lunch meetings at the Community First Health Co-op on Wednesdays.

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

This picture of Taghum resident Marc Savard was taken in February when he first spoke to the Nelson Star and little was known about the virus that had shut him out of his job in Wuhan, China. Photo: Tyler Harper
VIDEO: Once an outlier, Nelson man’s COVID-19 experience now typical

Savard was living in Wuhan, China, when the pandemic began

COVID-19. (Image courtesy CDC)
47 new COVID-19 cases in Interior Health region

1,538 total cases, 399 are active, ten in hospital

Nelson city council conducted an online resident survey about patios and food trucks and got over a thousand responses. Photo: Bill Metcalfe
Nelson council hears results of survey on patios and food trucks

A city’s online survey got 1,130 responses

Communities like Nakusp are grappling with the challenge of hooking high-speed internet up at individual homes. File photo
‘Last mile’ debate a Gordian knot in Slocan Valley’s fibre-optic cable plans

How do you bring high-speed internet not just to communities, but individual homes?

One of seven kitties rescued from a property east of Grand Forks Friday, Nov. 27. Photo: Laurie Tritschler
Grand Forks women rescue sick kitties from rural property

Kimberly Feeny and Lisa Valenta spent their Friday nursing seven cats rescued east of the city

Black Press Media and BraveFace have come together to support children facing life-threatening conditions. Net proceeds from these washable, reusable, three-layer masks go to Make-A-Wish Foundation BC & Yukon.
Put on a BraveFace: Help make children’s wishes come true

Black Press Media, BraveFace host mask fundraiser for Make-A-Wish Foundation

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Kevin Bieksa during his days playing with the Vancouver Canucks. (Photo: commons.wikimedia.org)
Bieksa to guest on free Canucks Alumni ‘Hot Stove’ on Zoom app

Former NHL player has become a game analyst on Sportsnet

114 Canadians were appointed Nov. 27 to the Order of Canada. (Governor General of Canada photo)
Indigenous actor, author, elder, leaders appointed to Order of Canada

Outstanding achievement, community dedication and service recognized

Screenshot of Pastor James Butler giving a sermon at Free Grace Baptist Church in Chilliwack on Nov. 22, 2020. The church has decided to continue in-person services despite a public health order banning worship services that was issued on Nov. 19, 2020. (YouTube)
2 Lower Mainland churches continue in-person services despite public health orders

Pastors say faith groups are unfairly targeted and that charter rights protect their decisions

A big job: Former forests minister Doug Donaldson stands before a 500-year-old Douglas fir in Saanich to announce preservation of some of B.C.’s oldest trees, July 2019. (B.C. government)
B.C. returning to ‘stand-alone’ forests, rural development ministry

Horgan says Gordon Campbell’s super-ministry doesn’t work

Peter Wilson, left, and Micah Rankin, right, formed the Special Prosecutor team that was tasked with reviewing and litigating charges stemming from the Bountiful investigation. Trevor Crawley photo.
End of Bountiful prosecution wraps up decades of legal battles

Constitutional questions had to be settled before a polygamy prosecution could move forward

2020
Urban wildlife Part VI: The East Kootenay birds of autumn

The work of local photographers printed in the pages of the East Kootenay Advertiser throughout 2020. Part VI.

Most Read