British Columbia

Castlegar to consider radon testing bylaw

The City of Castlegar may be the first in B.C. to force builders to test for radon, an odourless, colourless radioactive gas that has been linked to lung cancer.
Radon gas, a radioactive element, seeps into the home from the surrounding rock and soil. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)

The City of Castlegar may be the first in B.C. to force builders to test for radon, an odourless, colourless radioactive gas that has been linked to lung cancer.

If elevated levels of the radioactive gas are found, builders would have to find ways to reduce the gas from seeping into the home.

There are various radon-detection kits available for purchase. (CBC)

Since Dana Schmidt's wife died of lung cancer suspected to be from radon, he's been on a mission to prevent others from suffering the same fate.

"Watching someone die from lung cancer over three and a half months is an eye-opener," said Schmidt, "I was a radon skeptic before that."

The West Kootenay region is a hot spot for radon gas because of concentrations of other radioactive elements in the region's rock and soil such as uranium and radium that decay and release the gas.

That is why Schmidt wants Castlegar to adopt a bylaw forcing builders of new homes to test for radon. 

If the Castlegar bylaw passes, the provincial government would have to change the B.C. Building Code. 

Coun. Deb McIntosh says she can't envision the B.C. government saying no, considering the level of concern in her city.

"To me [it] is a no brainer," said McIntosh.

"I think we owe it to the people who are going to build here or move here because we care about people."