Top 10 ways you can prevent lung disease

It’s true what they say, prevention is always the best medicine. The same can be said with the health of your lungs. We have created Lungs gifa list of 10 ways you can help prevent lung disease:

10. Make a difference. Protect your family by encouraging exercise, eating right and keeping your home free of respiratory triggers. Help spread the word to those around you to increase awareness about lung health. Every day, you can make a difference.

9. Start small. Your best bet for preventing lung disease is by helping children grow up smoke free and by modelling that behaviour. The Lung Association works with government and other organizations to ensure communities are smoke-free. Call us at 1-888-566-LUNG (5864) for free information on the dangers caused by tobacco.


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8. There are more than 300 substances in the workplace known to cause occupational asthma. Know the symptoms of asthma and monitor to see if they appear while at work. Talk to your doctor about workplace risks.

7. Test your home for radon. It’s simple and inexpensive. This coulourless, odourless gas is the second leading cause of lung cancer, yet you can easily prevent it from getting into your home. Visit for more information on how to keep the air in your home healthy.

6. Get involved! Air pollution worsens lung disease and can be divesting for all Canadians, especially for those with chronic lung conditions. Join in the fight for clean air by reducing pollution and supporting clean air laws.

5. Prevent air pollution. Help keep the air in your community clean. Drive less, don’t idle your vehicle, and avoid burning wood, leaves or trash.

4. Know the symptoms of asthma, such as wheezing, coughing, or shortness of breath. Call the Lung Association at 1-888-566-LUNG (5864) and speak to one of our certified respiratory educators if you suspect you or a loved one has asthma. We can help you learn how to get it under control.

3. Recognize the warning signs of lung disease. Chronic cough, chest pain, shortness of breath, wheezing, coughing blood, chronic mucus production and chronic fatigue are not normal. See your doctor or other health provider for prompt attention.

2. Avoid lung hazards. Protect yourself from air pollution indoors and outdoors. Don’t allow anyone to smoke in your home. Visit for more tips.

1. Don’t smoke. If you smoke, plan to quit. Call The Lung Association at 1-888-566-LUNG (5864) for the help you need to quit for good. You can also visit

Test your home for radon before spring in Alberta

Radon graphic for blog post

Radon is a cancer-causing, colourless, odourless, naturally-occurring radioactive gas that comes from uranium breaking down deep in the soil. Radon enters a home through cracks in foundation walls, construction joints, and gaps around service pipes or support posts.

Preliminary data collected from 268 homes in Calgary region by a University of Calgary project shows that one in five homes are over Health Canada’s maximum acceptable limit of 200 Becquerels/m3.

Data also collected by The Lung Association, Alberta & NWT from 658 Alberta homes reveals that 16 per cent of those households have radon levels higher that Health Canada’s acceptable limit. However, when the homes are compared to limits set in the United States — a limit of 149 Bq/m3 — that’s 28 per cent of homes in Alberta that have tested higher than acceptable limits set in the U.S.

The World Health Organization recommends an acceptable limit of radon should be at 100 Becquerels/m3. With that said, 54 per cent of those same homes tested in Alberta are above WHO’s acceptable limit — a result that is much higher than anticipated.

The result is staggering because radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer after smoking in Canada. About 3,200 lung cancer deaths are attributed to radon exposure each year — about 16 per cent of all lung cancer deaths in Canada.

There are no radon free areas in Canada and data shows Alberta is in a very higher risk of having radon in almost every home. However, the question every Alberta household and landlord needs to answer is how much of that radioactive gas is in his or her home. Of course, the only way to know is to test.

Health Canada recommends that homes and buildings be tested for a minimum of three months using long term testing kit and the best time to test is during the fall and winter months. Since it is already mid-February, time is running out for households to take advantage of prime time opportunities to test their homes for radon.


Purchase your test kit from The Lung Association office or online from at the cost of $35. Kits are also available at different hardware stores.

For more information about radon, visit or contact Sufi Hassan, Program Specialist for Environment and Health by email at or by phoning 1-888-5666-5864, ext. 2252

— This blog post was authored by Sufi Hassan, Program Specialist for Environment and Health at The Lung Association, Alberta & NWT

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

A radon test kit, like this one, can be purchased at

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  and first!

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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.