OLIVER PAIPOONGE, Ont -- Residents of Oliver-Paipoonge and Marathon are getting a chance to find out, for free, if radon levels in their homes are unsafe.
Radon is a radioactive, invisible gas that is present in homes across the country. It's produced in the ground when uranium breaks down through radioactive decay.
Radon gas can seep into a home through foundation cracks, pipe openings, and sump pits. Over time, it has the potential to cause lung cancer.
A 2015 study found that 16 per cent of homes tested in the City of Thunder Bay had high radon levels, which was much higher than the provincial and national averages.
The same study found the prevalence of radon increased outside the city boundary.
This week, the Thunder Bay District Health Unit is launching a study to identify radon levels in additional selected rural areas.
Free radon home-testing kits are being offered to 220 eligible households in Oliver-Paipoonge and 150 eligible participants in Marathon.
Lee Sieswerda, manager of environmental health programs for the TBDHU, says "the only way to know if your home has a high level of radon is to test for it."
The study is open to both homeowners and renters.
Participants must complete a short online questionnaire to determine their eligibility.
Candidates must retain the detector in their home for three months in order to get an accurate measure of radon levels.
The detector will then be returned to the TBDHU for analysis.
Residents will be notified of their results, and will also receive information on mitigation measures they can undertake.