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Real estate, research and radon: Course aimed at keeping Albertans safe wins International award

For immediate release: The Real Estate Council of Alberta (RECA) has won an international award for its course educating Alberta real estate professionals about radon in homes—an odourless, radioactive and dangerous gas that occurs naturally in our homes when radium in soil and rock breaks down.

In a unique collaboration for the real estate industry, RECA worked with leading radon researcher Aaron Goodarzi, PhD, with the University of Calgary’s Cumming School of Medicine (CSM). Together they developed a module and test about the presence and detection of radon in homes in Alberta for RECA’s 2019 Re-licensing Education Program. The course received the coveted 2019 ARELLO® Education Award recognizing outstanding systems and programs that contribute to the real estate industry, promote public protection and can be adapted across North America and beyond.

“Real estate professionals’ obligation to discuss radon with buyers, sellers, landlords and tenants means that every single Albertan buying, selling, or leasing properties will become aware of the dangers of radon, how to take it into consideration in a purchase decision and how test and mitigate radon ,” says Joseph Fernandez, Director of Education Programs at RECA. “Data provided by Dr. Goodarzi was timely.”

RECA worked closely with researchers at the University of Calgary to develop the course.  The researchers have found one in six Western Canadian homes exceed Health Canada’s acceptable radon levels. The researchers launched Evict Radon, an awareness campaign partly funded by the Alberta Real Estate Foundation (AREF), that encourages people to test their homes for the gas while also gathering data for medical research.

“We were delighted that RECA had the foresight to engage with our team to build their course using scientific, peer-reviewed, and Canadian context information on the science of radon,” says Goodarzi, Canada Research Chair for Radiation Exposure Disease and member of the Arnie Charbonneau Cancer Institute at the CSM. “This has enabled them to offer the Real Estate community of Alberta a gold-standard in education on this topic that is, to my knowledge, unmatched in Canada.”

Radon, a known carcinogen, is the second most frequent cause of lung cancer, after smoking. Scientists estimate that one Albertan per day is diagnosed with lung cancer caused by radon.  “We are happy to support Evict Radon,” says Jim Saunders, the chair of AREF’s Board of Governors.  “And we are very pleased that by educating real estate professionals, the Evict Radon project is able to reach a broader audience and help educate more Albertans on how to ensure their home is healthy.”

About RECA:

RECA is an independent governing authority that sets, regulates and enforces standards for real estate brokerage, mortgage brokerage, property management and real estate appraisal professionals across Alberta.

About Evict Radon:

Evict Radon is a non-profit organization dedicated to solving Canada’s substantial and worsening radon-gas exposure problem through interdisciplinary research and educating Canadians about the harmful effects of radon gas.

About AREF:

The Alberta Real Estate Foundation invests in real estate policy, research, practices, and education that strengthen Alberta’s communities.

For more information contact Bryan Douey, RECA Communications and Connections Manager, at 403-228-2954 or bdouey@reca.ca

University of Calgary researcher launches Evict Radon campaign

Study encourages all Albertans to test homes for cancer-causing radon gas

By Kelly Johnston, Cumming School of Medicine

Cumming School of Medicine researchers are launching a provincewide campaign to encourage all Albertans to have their homes tested for radon gas, for their own safety and to help map household radon throughout the province. Radon is a known carcinogen. According to the Canadian Cancer Society, radon is the second most frequent cause of lung cancer, after cigarette smoking.

“We are launching the Evict Radon awareness campaign to educate people about the effects of radon gas and encourage as many Albertans as possible to test their homes while also gathering data for medical research,” says Aaron Goodarzi, PhD, assistant professor in the departments of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology and Oncology and a member of the Arnie Charbonneau Cancer Institute. “We’ve proven radon is prevalent throughout southern Alberta and in Calgary area homes. Now we want to expand our research to include all areas of the province.”

Goodarzi and team tested radon levels in more than 2,300 Calgary and area homes. One in eight homes exceeded Health Canada’s acceptable radon levels. The study was published March 29, 2017, in CMAJ Open.

“Radon is a significant issue in Alberta, and while there is an effective solution, the subject is embedded with scientific technical language.” says Brent Alexander, chair of the Alberta Real Estate Foundation that is providing funding for the campaign. “The Evict Radon awareness campaign will clearly communicate the value of testing for radon and mitigation to all Albertans which will result in healthier homes across our province.”

Goodarzi says now is the best time to test for radon. “The winter months, now to April, are the ideal time to test your home for radon. That’s when we spend more time inside, and due to the cold our homes are sealed up tight – the perfect conditions for radon exposure,” he says.

Learn more about the Evict Radon campaign and sign up for your radon kit at www.evictradon.ca. The radon kits used in the study cost $60.