What is radon?

Radon is an invisible, odourless and tasteless but radioactive gas. Although it arises naturally from under the ground, radon gas is often drawn up and concentrated inside modern buildings to unnaturally high and cancer-causing levels in indoor air. Thus, high radon exposure is a human-made problem, but it is solvable. By participating in our study, you are helping researchers understand the factors that lead to high radon.

Why is radon gas harmful?

Radon is radioactive and unstable. In a very short period of time, it decays and emits alpha particle radiation, which severely damages our DNA in such a way that is almost impossible for our bodies to repair without introducing genetic errors (mutations). These errors trigger a worsening cycle of DNA mutation that drives cancer formation. Hence, radon is listed as a category 1 carcinogen (cancer-causing agent), meaning that it is absolutely known to cause cancer in humans. As radon is inhaled into our lungs, it primarily triggers the formation of lung cancer – the number one cause of cancer death in Canada – even in folks who have never smoked. Younger people, especially children, are the most at risk from the DNA damage caused by radon exposure. The risk of cancer goes up with greater radon levels and prolonged exposure over a lifetime.

Is Canada at risk for radon exposure? >


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