Safety in schools is on the agenda as Interior Health makes its rounds testing for radon.
The radon testing pilot project is taking place in all school districts and participating independent schools.
“The project includes reviewing radon results and supplementing ongoing testing efforts. Interior Health will work with school management to reduce radon levels where high levels are found,” IH said in a letter to schools and families.
Radon is a radioactive gas that is formed naturally in the ground. It has no colour, odour, or taste and can accumulate indoors, particularly in basements and ground floors.
Radon is the second-leading cause of lung cancer in Canada after smoking. Spending long periods of time in rooms where radon is present can increase the chance of developing lung cancer, and the risk is higher for people who smoke.
The only way to know radon levels is to test for it.
According to the BC Centre for Disease Control, radon levels are generally higher in the Interior region than other areas of the province.
For example, in a 2022 test of 257 homes in Lake Country, 51 per cent tested above Health Canada guidelines, according to a BC Lung Foundation report.
“While this project focuses on schools, this setting only accounts for part of the total exposure people may receive. Radon may be present in other buildings in your community, including homes,” said IH. “We encourage you to test your home for radon.”