If you think I am overstating how important human exposure to radon is, have a look at the excellent video just released by the National Collaborating Centre for Environmental Health (NCCEH).
The video not only outlines the hazards and significance of radon exposure, but more importantly, what strategies public health and other agencies can adopt to address this important environmental health issue. The proposed actions are quite simple and effective: raise public awareness about radon, promote testing of radon and encourage corrective action, advocate for changes to the Building Code Act that reduce radon entering buildings; and work with other agencies and industry to identify new mechanisms to reduce exposure to radon.
In Ontario, many of the 35 public health units have been raising awareness about radon and promoting testing of private homes to enable people to take precautions. The extent of activities devoted to radon awareness among the public health units vary depending on available resources and other local priorities. The importance of this issue has been communicated for many years by Health Canada (https://www.canada.ca/en/health-canada/services/radon.html) and was highlighted by Cancer Care Ontario and Public Health Ontario in their report “Environmental Burden of Cancer in Ontario, 2016”
With the release of the Healthy Environments and Climate Change Guideline in January 2018, the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care (MOHLTC) provided a clear mandate for public health units “to develop approaches for promoting healthy built and natural environments to enhance population health and mitigate environmental health risks.” The guideline specifically names radon as one of the priority environmental health risks.
There is a great opportunity to bring government and private sector agencies together to develop an Ontario strategy that builds on existing resources, experience and proven successes to advance public health and take on the silent killer.