'It's preventable': Cancer survivor spreads testing message at Saskatoon radon conference

A speaker at a conference in Saskatoon this week is hammering home the importance of testing homes for radon gas.

Rachael Malmberg attributes her stage 4 lung cancer to radon gas

Cancer survivor Rachael Malmberg wants more people to test their homes for radon. (Submitted by Victoria Pickering)

Rachael Malmberg was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer at age 31.

The former national-level U.S. hockey player had never smoked and had lived a perfectly healthy life. 

Malmberg, who has since beaten the cancer, discovered both her current home and childhood homes tested positive for radon, a naturally occurring radioactive gas that can seep through people's basements. She and her doctor believe radon is the cause of her cancer.

"There's very little awareness around radon," Malmberg told CBC Radio's Saskatoon Morning. "The good part is that it's preventable."

After her diagnosis, Malmberg became an advocate for radon testing. She spoke at the Canadian Association of Radon Scientists and Technologists' (CARST) 8th annual Radon Conference in Saskatoon this week.

Radon gas is responsible for an estimated 3,200 deaths from lung cancer every year in Canada, but many people are unaware of the dangers. Malmberg said an inexpensive test can show whether your home is dangerous.

Radon gas is responsible for an estimated 3,200 deaths from lung cancer every year in Canada (CBC)

"If you do have exposure, you can remediate it," said Malmburg. "You can mitigate to a safe level."

Saskatchewan has long been seen as one of the more dangerous provinces in the country for radon gas. A 2012 survey found that 15.7 per cent of Saskatchewan homes test above Canada's guideline level for radon.