WHAT WE’RE READING THIS WEEK: A need for lung cancer research


Tributes pour in after loss of legendary father

with_parents2CBC NEWS; Terry Fox’s father, Rolly, dies following battle with lung cancer, posted March 9, 2016 

It has been an incredibly sad week here at The Lung Association, Alberta & NWT — especially after Terry MacInnes lost his battle with his severe lung health condition March 3.

The entire country, us included, is also mourning the loss of Rolly Fox, the father of Terry Fox. Rolly died Tuesday, March 8 “while listening to a little Hank Williams,” according to his family through a statement posted on the Terry Fox Foundation’s website.

“We have witnessed once again the pain cancer causes but we know, oh how we know, that we are not alone,” said the family in the statement.

“We have seen first hand the opportunities to extend life because of our nation’s collective belief and investment in cancer research, yet have been forced to accept that they were not available to Dad/Grandpa.”

With further investment in critically underfunded lung cancer‬ research, we hope that some day announcements like these become a thing of the past.

A radioactive study into radioactive elements

BBC World Service, Elements: The Radio Actives, Published March 9, 2016

Radon Kit Photo

A radon test kit, like this one, can be purchased at http://radonaware.accustarcanada.com.

The BBC World Service’s Business Daily has taken a closer look into a trio of radioactive elements, like uranium, and studies how those elements were once used commercially in the 20th century.

The documentary also looks at what residents in Finland are doing to curb radon levels — a radioactive gas that is the second-leading cause of lung cancer.

When you give it a listen, it is a reminder as to why we encourage home and building owners to test for radon during the winter months.

Download the MP3 file as a podcast to your MP3 device or smartphone from the BBC World Service.

River of trash causing lung health problems in Beirut

The National Post, ER doctors see spike in respiratory illnesses, published March 8

landfill-1543880-639x428.jpgLebanon is in the midst of a trash collection crisis and it is causing alarming problems for emergency room doctors in that country.

The crisis began eight months ago when government officials in Beirut closed down a landfill without providing an alternative.

The city of Beirut is mostly garbage free, but the trash is being hauled to the city’s outskirts, where piles upon piles of trash are seen along the roadside and the banks of the Beirut River.

According to the Association Press, patients coping with serious lung conditions are filling hospitals in Beirut because of burning garbage.



Top five reasons why you should test your Alberta home for radon

Are you safe enough from radon?

A radon test kit, like this one, can be purchased at http://radonaware.accustarcanada.com.

A radon test kit, like this one, can be purchased at http://radonaware.accustarcanada.com.

Radon, an invisible and naturally occurring toxic gas, comes from uranium breaking down deep in soil. It can get into homes and buildings undetected through cracks in foundations or gaps around pipes, as well as though floor slabs, construction joints, gaps around service pipes, support posts, window casements, floor drains, sumps or cavities inside walls.

No area in Alberta — and across Canada — is considered radon free, confirmed Health Canada. A 2012 cross-Canada survey shows 6.9 per cent of Canadians live in homes with radon above the acceptable limit. The Canadian Radon Guideline is 200 Becquerels/cubic metre, but the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency approves 148 Bq/mand World Health Organization recommends 100 Bq/mto be the acceptable level.

How much would it cost to test radon levels in your home?

Spending $30 to $50 is enough to test radon levels in your home. The procedure is very simple. Just purchase a radon detector kit, take it out from the package, put in appropriate place of your basement or lowest level of house. Then leave it alone for at least three months. After those three months are up, place it in a zip lock bag and send to the laboratory using the envelope received with the package. You should get the result back within two weeks.

Best time to do the testing?

Radon level in home varies from day to day or even hour to hour. Concentration are usually higher in winter and at night when windows and doors are closed. Health Canada recommends to use a long term detector for minimum three months during fall or winter.

How bad is radon for your health?

More than eight people a day, and about 3,200 each year, dies from radon-induced lung cancer in Canada. Radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer behind smoking in Canada and around 16% of all lung cancer cases are related to radon exposure.

What to do if tested high?

If any home test shows results higher than Health Canada’s acceptable limit of 200 Bq/m3, homeowners should call a certified radon mitigation professional who will inspect and give a quote for the mitigation work. The work costs from $800 to around $3,000 depending on the size and structure of the home.

Posted by Sufi Hassan, program specialist for environment and health at The Lung Association, Alberta & NWT. 

Does radon exist in Alberta? The Lung Association’s Amy Elefson sets the record straight


Winter is coming and as the months get colder, households in Alberta should consider testing their homes for radon, an odourless, colourless, and tasteless gas that is the second leading cause of lung cancer.

Amy Elefson, Program Specialist for Environment and Health at The Lung Association, Alberta & NWT, breaks down what is fact from fiction when it comes to radon in one of her two latest blog posts about this topic. To check out her blog, click here or read below:

Since many of you will be taking the time to test your homes for radon, The Lung Association, Alberta & NWT would like to take the time to clarify common misconceptions about radon.

Below you’ll find 5 common myths, and the reasons why they are myths. If you don’t know what radon is, visit www.ab.lung.ca/site/radon  and www.takeactiononradon.ca first!

takeactiononradon_web button_3


1)       There’s no radon in Alberta.

Fact: No region of the country is considered “radon-free”, but the levels of radon differ from region to region depending on the uranium concentration in the soil. The large majority of homes will have some level of radon, though that level varies widely from home to home. It has even been shown that immediate neighbours can have vastly different radon levels.

2)       There’s no evidence linking radon and lung cancer.

Fact: Studies in both North America and Europe have found a strong association between residential radon exposure and lung cancer. These studies confirm the radon health risks predicted by occupational studies completed on underground miners who inhaled radon over a several year period. It is known that radon is a carcinogen, and these studies demonstrate that exposure to radon, even at moderate levels, can lead to lung cancer.

3)       I don’t have a basement; I’m not at risk of radon exposure. Fact: If your home is in contact with the ground (i.e. not on stilts) radon can potentially enter. This means that regardless of whether a home has a basement, crawl space or is built on a slab of foundation; the risk of radon accumulation exists.

4)       There’s no risk associated with a radon level below 200 Bq/m3.

Fact: Since radon is a radioactive gas, there is no “safe” level. However … the lower the level, the lower the risk. In addition, the risk of developing lung cancer depends on two other important factors: duration of exposure and tobacco use. The number of years a person is exposed will affect the potential of developing lung cancer. As we know, tobacco use in general is a risk factor for lung cancer. The risk of developing lung cancer if you are a lifetime smoke is one in ten. Your risk increases to one in three if you are exposed to high levels of radon. This is compared to a one in twenty risk if you are a non-smoker exposed to the same high levels of radon.

5)       My neighbour’s radon mitigation system vents into my side yard, I’m being exposed to high levels of radon because of them.

Fact: If your neighbour’s radon mitigation system has been properly installed, with sufficient room between the end of the pipe and your house, then the radon will dissipate rapidly and only minimal atmospheric levels of radon will be found around your home.