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Evict Radon Update: UCalgary research finds short-term radon test kits are not effective in measuring radon gas exposure

For immediate release: As awareness increases about the health danger of radon gas, more people are making the decision to test their homes for the deadly gas. A University of Calgary-led study finds the only reliable way to measure exposure to radon gas is with a long-term testing kit, which takes readings within the home for 90 or more days.

“Radon gas levels can fluctuate wildly day to day,” says Dr. Aaron Goodarzi, PhD, assistant professor in the departments of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology and Oncology and member of the Arnie Charbonneau Cancer Institute at the Cumming School of Medicine (CSM).  “Short-term tests can give a false sense of alarm, or worse, a false sense of security as they cannot precisely predict long-term exposure.”

Researchers placed two test kits, a short-term (five-day) and long-term (90-day) in the same homes. Tests were conducted during summer and winter months. Findings showed the short-term kits were imprecise up to 99 percent of the time when compared to a long term test.

Radon is a known carcinogen. Health Canada lists radon as the number one cause of lung cancer in non-smokers. The gas is naturally occurring, colourless, and odourless. It can accumulate to unnaturally high and dangerous levels in homes. Health Canada has promoted the use of long-term testing kits for some time.

“Our recommendation was based on research from international authorities including the US and Europe,” says Kelley Bush, manager, radon education and awareness Health Canada. “This research is critical because it provides Canadian data that confirms the value of long term testing.”

Goodarzi has also been working with the Real Estate Council of Alberta (RECA) to educate realtors against using short term radon kits for real estate transactions.

“RECA is appreciative of the assistance provided by Dr. Goodarzi in the development of education enabling real estate professionals to advise buyers and sellers to take radon into consideration during the purchase and sale of a home, in the absence of reliable short-term testing,” says Joseph Fernandez, director of education programs at RECA. “All real estate professionals have completed radon related education and new professionals will be required to complete it before entering the real estate profession.”

The findings also show the Prairies are home to the second highest radon exposed population on Earth. The pan-Canadian scientist and physician led Evict Radon research initiative is now recruiting participation from all Canadians. The research is aimed at gathering as much data as possible to understand and ultimately defeat Canadian’s exposure to radon problem.

“We need to know exactly what factors influence high and low radon in Canadian homes. It’s not just in the Prairies, we know of high concentrations in areas throughout the country,” says Goodarzi. “This is easily one of the most preventable forms of environmentally-caused cancer. We have already learned so much from the work we’ve done in Alberta and Saskatchewan to test for and mitigate radon. We plan to build on that.”

In addition to the data gathered on short-term testing kits, Goodarzi’s team was also able to get a better understanding of how the size, design and age of home are related to radon gas exposure.

Findings are published in Scientific Reports.

This research was supported by the Alberta Real Estate Foundation, Alberta Cancer Foundation, Health Canada, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and the Robson DNA Science Centre Fund at the Charbonneau Cancer Institute.

Dr. Aaron Goodarzi, PhD, holds the Canada Research Chair for Radiation Exposure disease. Evict Radon represents a confederation of Canadian Scholars with expertise in radon biology, architecture, population health, geology and communications.

Learn more about the Evict Radon campaign, and sign up for research study radon kits at http://www.evictradon.org/.

Find the full media release here.

 

Media Contact

Kelly Johnston
Sr. Communications Specialist
Cumming School of Medicine, University of Calgary
Kelly.johnston2@ucalgary.ca
403-220-5012

About the University of Calgary

The University of Calgary is a global intellectual hub located in Canada’s most enterprising city. In our spirited, high-quality learning environment, students thrive in programs made rich by research, hands-on experiences and entrepreneurial thinking. Our strategy drives us to be recognized as one of Canada’s top five research universities, engaging the communities we both serve and lead. This strategy is called Eyes High, inspired by the university’s Gaelic motto, which translates as ‘I will lift up my eyes.’ For more information, visit ucalgary.ca/eyeshigh.

For more information, visit ucalgary.ca. Stay up to date with University of Calgary news headlines on Twitter @UCalgary. For details on faculties and how to reach experts go to our media centre at ucalgary.ca/mediacentre.

About the Cumming School of Medicine

The University of Calgary’s Cumming School of Medicine (CSM) is driven to create the future of health. We are a proud leader with seven world-class research institutes and 2,900 students, as well as faculty and staff, working to advance education and research in precision medicine and precision public health, improving lives in our community and around the world. Visit cumming.ucalgary.ca and follow us @UCalgaryMed.

ReFraming the WaterShed raises the roof on sustainable building

Submitted by ReThink Red Deer

For the last five years, an ambitious group of organizations, businesses, and volunteers have been busy as beavers at the Piper Creek Community Gardens. Together, we’ve done some cool things like install one of Canada’s largest Food Forests and Pollinator Gardens, restore the banks of Piper Creek, and plant lots of new beaver habitat! Oh ya, AND we hosted some hungry goats with the City’s Parks Department!

But in the summer of 2017, we were sad to see the old iconic barn be demolished for safety reasons. The site looked so empty because, in spite of all the beautiful plants growing, it’s just not the same when you know what it looked like before.

So we teamed up with our friends at Top Peg Timber Frame Construction and Living Lands Landscape and Design to host a community barn raising that replaced the beloved structure and aims to break the Guinness World Record for the World’s Largest Pollinator Hotel…! With a lot of hard work and persistence we secured a $25,000 grant from the Alberta Real Estate Foundation to host local timber framers and coordinate the project, plus $27,766 from the Government of Alberta’s Community Facility Enhancement Program, $40,000 from Co-Op’s Community Spaces program for barn materials, and official approvals (permits) from The City of Red Deer.

The new barn design is an open-air timber frame structure to harvest rainwater for the planted areas of the site and the walls serve as space for installing pollinator habitat (with the help of Living Lands) making it Canada’s largest pollinator hotel and supporting – in a BIG way – the City of Red Deer’s Pollinator Parks initiative!

Check out photos of the barn raising held on the 2019 Alberta Culture Days weekend, alongside our Fall Harvest Supper and Garlic City Market – click here.

picture of raised timberframe barn

Piper Creek Timberframe Barn – constructed by Top Peg Timber Frame Construction and High Peak Timberframing (Sept, 2019), sponsored by Alberta Real Estate Foundation, The Government of Alberta, and Federated Co-Op’s “Community Spaces” program.

 

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.