rcmp detachment

Testing by Health Canada has found elevated levels of radon in 36 federal government properties in Saskatchewan, including RCMP detachments. (CBC)

Health Canada documents outlining results of testing for radon gas in federal government properties show 36 locations in Saskatchewan, about half of them RCMP detachments, with readings which exceed official guidelines.

In one case, the level found was about 16 times the guideline for radon exposure.

Radon is a radioactive gas that occurs naturally when uranium in the soil degrades. It is invisible, tasteless and odourless. It can seep into buildings through foundations, pipes and windows.

"The higher the reading is, the more urgent it is to take action," Ray Copes, Chief of Environmental and Occupational Health at Public Health Ontario, told CBC News.

Rob Creasser, from the Mounted Police Professional Association of Canada, said he is concerned about the findings.

"Clearly that's not safe," Creasser said. "Are the people working or living in those areas, are they aware of these readings? Have they been told?"

Copes said any finding of elevated levels should be addressed by putting in place measures to reduce and prevent future exposure adding that workers should be informed of health hazards.

"I would expect that if workers wanted to know what levels of radon were present in their workplace and those results were available that workers would have access to that information," he said.

Health Canada recommends all buildings be tested for radon where people are spending more than four hours a day on the premises. It has been noted that exposure to radon over a long period of time can lead to lung cancer.

RCMP in Saskatchewan declined an interview request from CBC News.

A national RCMP spokesperson issued a written statement to note that all their facilities that had high levels of radon have undergone remediation, except for five buildings where work will be completed in the fall.  

Creasser's association said that information was new to them.

With files from CBC's Steve Pasqualotto