Health professionals are in a unique position to help reduce the risk of radon-related lung cancer. Many Canadians are still unaware of radon gas, its attributable relationship to cancer, how it enters homes and, most importantly, how to test and mitigate.
The following resources are designed specifically for health professionals to help educate themselves and their patients about radon and how to prevent exposure.
When a person is has radon exposure, over time, is clearly associated with lung cancer and that lung cancer is a prevalent and serious cancer. Reducing radon exposure is an important cancer reduction particularly if people are smokers or live with smokers in the home.
People should talk to their doctor about their radon levels if they are elevated (over the federal guideline of 200 Bq/m3).
Simple actions include purchasing a radon test or hiring a professional to test their house for radon and then follow up with you about the results. Reducing smoking is, of course, important but so too is reducing radon levels if they are above the action level. There are clear steps on how to do this and there are certified professionals that can help.
Radon is an IARC 1 (Known Human Carcinogen) with sufficient human and animal evidence
– For every 100 Bq/m3 increase in gas, there is an ~16% increase in the risk of lung cancer
The Government of Canada guideline for radon levels in homes and public buildings is 200 Bq/m3
– The World Health Organization (WHO) recommended guideline is 100 Bq/m3
Radon is the 2nd leading cause of lung cancer in Canada and the 1st for non-smokers
– Lung cancer remains the leading cause of cancer death in Canada
Canadian research estimates that radon causes over 3,200 lung cancer deaths per year
– Health Canada research attributes 13-14% of lung cancers in women and men to radon gas exposure
Radon exposure and current smoking dramatically increases lung cancer risk
– Testing homes for radon is simple and inexpensive
– Tests can be purchased easily online or at some stores (Click here to find a list of suppliers)
Mitigation is very effective at lowering household radon levels
– Even if homes test high, the standard approach to mitigation significantly reduces exposure
– Health Canada certifies radon mitigation professionals across Canada
Training and Information for Health Professionals
- Take a free, short course on Radon though MacHealth’s Radon Continuing Medical Education course –Click here for the MacHealth Course
- Ontario College of Family Physicians Resources – Click here
Articles for Health Professionals
- Canadian Family Physician (2018) Radon Gas- “The hidden killer. What is the role of the family physician?” Juan Antonio Garcia-Rodriguez – Click here
- Canadian Medical Association Journal (2015) “Don’t Ask, Don’t tell: Canadian Policies on Radon” Kelsall, Diane. – Click here
- A UK review article on the cellular and molecular carcinogenic effects of radon – Click here
Resources to use with Patients
- Radon Reduction Guide for Canadians- overview of radon,health effects, how to test and mitigate – Click here
- It’s Your Health, two page brochure on radon and health – Click here
- The US Centres for Disease Control has developed a new Radon Toolkit for Public Health Professionals which offer infographics and plain language resources that can be tailored for use with the general public, includes visuals for smokers – Click here
Resources for Patients with Lung Cancer
- The Canadian Cancer Society
- Cancer Survivors Against Radon (CANSar) provides resources for individuals diagnosed with radon-induced lung cancer in the United States. CANSar.org
Resources for Smokers
- Radon- Another Reason to Quit- radon information specifically for smokers – Click here
- Dr. Bill Field has developed a series of radon education videos for patients through the Iowa Cancer Consortium. Entitled “Breathing Easier” these resources can be found here – Click here
Frequently Asked Questions:
There is a research paper on the internet which proposes a concept of hormesis. This paper is frequently circulated during debates when radon is discussed. There is a group of scientists who subscribe to the concept of hormesis in which low dose exposure is considered health positive, as is written about in this article. The concept of hormesis is that radon at low levels can have a positive health effect (similar to the radon spas). Hormesis is a hotly debated concept. The WHO, IARC, the US EPA, Health Canada and other major health organisations do not support the concept of hormesis. These well established agencies promote using a linear, low dose extrapolation for radon gas exposure response relationship and suggests that ALARA “as low as reasonably achievable” be a guiding principle.