Cancer doctors and researchers in Calgary are testing their homes for deadly carcinogenic radon gas in hopes it will raise awareness and encourgae others to do the same.

Radon is produced naturally when uranium in soil breaks down. However, it's also the second leading cause of lung cancer in Canada and nearly half of Prairie homes have amounts exceeding Health Canada's safety guidelines.


A radon test costs about $40 and is available at most local hardware stores. (CBC)

"In Canmore, Banff, Cochrane, Calgary, Lethbridge [and] Okotoks we're seeing 40 per cent consistently of homes above the action level that Health Canada has set," said Renata MacQueen with RadonWest, a radon testing company based in Calgary.

Although scientists know Alberta is a hotspot for radon, experts say there is very low awareness among residents about the dangers it can pose to health.

"It is of great concern," said Aaron Goodarzi with the Southern Alberta Cancer Research Institute. "Mostly because it is totally preventable."

Like carbon monoxide, radon is odourless, tasteless and invisible. But unlike that possibly deadly gas, there is no alarm to let people know when radon infiltrates their home.

However, there is a radon gas test and that's what Calgary cancer doctors and scientists are conducting in their homes.

The test is cheap, simple to use and can be found at most local hardware stores.

If the test finds radon, there's also an easy fix. A pipe can be installed to suck radon out from under the basement floor before it enters the house.

Radon potential map Canada

This map shows the radon potential across Canada, but wide variations can occur in the hazard rating so all dwellings should be tested. (