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 them educate themselves and their patients about radon and how to prevent exposure.

We are left in an odd situation in Canada. Drivers and passengers are required to wear seat belts, which are estimated to save about 1000 lives per year. Smoke alarms are required in most jurisdictions, reducing the annual rate of fire-related deaths from 130 per million households by about two-thirds. Yet, the federal government has adopted a “don’t ask, don’t tell” approach to radon, a proven carcinogen that is ubiquitous and causes thousands of deaths each year.

Diane Kelsall, CMAJ, June 16, 2015

What’s the danger?

Radon exposure, over time, is clearly associated with lung cancer. Reducing radon exposure is an important for 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 for Canadians to take include purchasing a radon test or hiring a professional to test their house for radon and then following up with their doctor 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.

health professional
  • 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 (Health Canada certifies radon mitigation professionals across Canada. Even if homes test high, the standard approach to mitigation significantly reduces exposure)

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

  • Canadian Medical Association Journal, (June 2023) “Radon and lung cancer risk”, CMAJ published June 19, 2023, Dr. Silvina C. Mema and Greg Baytalan

Resources for Smokers

Resources for Patients with Lung Cancer

  • The Canadian Cancer Society – click here

  • Ontario College of Family Physicians Resources – Click here

Resources to use with Patients


  • 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