Learn more about radon
About radon gas
Radon is a radioactive gas that is caused by the breakdown of uranium in soil. You can't see, smell or taste it. Radon enters homes through pipes, drains and foundation cracks. Outside, radon gas disperses into fresh air and is harmless, but indoors, it can accumulate to hazardous levels that can cause cancer.
Radon accounts for 16% of lung cancer deaths in Canadians. And the news is worse for smokers exposed to radon, who have a 1 in 3 chance of developing lung cancer, compared to a 1 in 10 chance for smokers not exposed to radon. For non-smokers exposed to radon, the cancer rate is 1 in 20. Click here for a video, Janet's Story, to learn how one woman, a non-smoker, was shocked to receive a diagnosis of lung cancer.
The only way to know whether your home has radon is to test it. The age, size or location of your home does not determine whether you have radon. Whether your house has a basement, crawlspace, or is built slab-on-grade does not make any difference. If your neighbour has tested and found high levels of radon, it does not mean your house will have high levels too. The only way to know whether your home has radon is to test it.
Radon is measured in Becquerels per cubic meter (Bq/m3). Health Canada recommends that homes should not exceed 200 Bq/m3.
Radon in the Thunder Bay District
Health Canada's 2012 Cross-Country Survey of Radon Concentrations in Homes found that, on average, 12% of homes in the Thunder Bay District have high radon levels. The Health Canada study is available here. The Thunder Bay District is a huge area of more than 100,000 km 2 and radon levels can vary dramatically within this area. Therefore, in three municipalities, the Thunder Bay District Health Unit conducted further studies to provide better data.
Radon prevalence in Thunder Bay
A study of homes in the city of Thunder Bay was completed by the Thunder Bay District Health Unit in 2014-2015. The report found that on average 16% of Thunder Bay homes have high radon levels. A chart broken down by voting ward is below. To read the whole report, click here.
Radon prevalence in Oliver Paipoonge and Marathon
A study of homes in Oliver Paipoonge and Marathon was completed by the Thunder Bay District Health Unit in 2017-2018. The report found that on average 65% of homes in Oliver Paipoonge and 17% of homes in Marathon have high radon levels. To read the whole report, click here.
Your next step: Click for more information about testing for radon
If you would like help to quit smoking, talk to your health care provider or connect with Smokers' Helpline at 1-877-513-5333 or at smokershelpline.ca