A 2016 Calgary Herald article quickly changed that.

The article touted the dangers of radon gas and its high prevalence in Canada. I read with interest that radon was the second-leading cause of lung cancer in our country and that testing for it was simple and inexpensive. As a pregnant stay-at-home mom who was passionate about preventative health, I jumped at the chance to participate in an at-home study to map the incidence of radon in Calgary.

I requested a testing kit online and it arrived promptly. I then placed the radon detector on our main floor and commenced the 90-day long-term test. Less than one month after I sent our unit to the lab for analysis, we received our results by email: 209 Bq/m3 +/- 26. I was hoping for a more definitive answer. I rationalized we were so close to Health Canada’s 200 Bq/m3 guideline we likely didn’t need to be too concerned.

One year later, I came across another Calgary Herald article on the same topic. I took the time to educate myself on radon gas and discovered how dangerous it truly is—especially for young children—and how the risk increases with length of exposure. Erring on the side of caution, I purchased a digital radon monitor, which can give accurate results in as little as one week. Our readings fluctuated daily with highs upwards of 300 Bq/m3. We decided we didn’t want to gamble with our children’s lives and contacted a local company to complete the mitigation. After a day of labour, our new reading was less than 10 Bq/m3. We could finally breathe easily.

The following year, we listed our home for sale. (The radon mitigation turned out to be a selling feature for our buyers.) On possession day of our new home, we promptly unpacked our digital monitor. Twenty-four hours later, out of morbid curiosity, I peeked at the display; I was aghast to see a reading of more than 9000 Bq/m3 staring back at me. As anticipated, the one-week average proved to be dangerously high. Without hesitation, we immediately booked a date to mitigate.

Much like cancer, radon does not discriminate; while our homes’ levels were exceptionally high, our next-door neighbours’ levels could be barely detectable. It is my sincere hope radon awareness continues to increase and that every home gets tested. With a cure for cancer not yet on the horizon, the price of prevention—and the confirmation that the air in your home is safe for your family to breathe—is an invaluable investment. In the words of Benjamin Franklin: “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”