The Fraser Valley Regional District is asking the provincial government to provide funding to help residents pay for radon mitigation in their homes. A resolution is being presented this week at the 2024 Union of BC Municipalities convention in Vancouver, calling for the creation of a program to help offset what can be a major expense.
Between November 2022 and May 2023 the FVRD conducted radon testing in Chilliwack, Hope, Mission, Harrison/Kent and Electoral Area H, which includes Columbia Valley, Cultus Lake and Lindell Beach. Each community had results above the low-risk level of 200 becaquerels per cubic metre (Bq/m3). Chilliwack had 12 such homes, but particularly concerning results were found in Hope and Electoral Area H.
Those regions together had 18 tests in the 200-600 Bq/m3, and Electoral Area H had two that went over 600.
According to an FVRD staff report, radon is a colourless and odorless gas that is the leading cause of lung cancer in Canada among non-smokers. It comes from the ground, getting into homes through cracks in the foundation, pipes and other openings. When levels are between 200 and 600, mitigation efforts within two years are strongly recommended.
A reading above 100 is a serious problem requiring an immediate fix as per World Health Organization guidelines.
“Although it is a relatively small sample size based on these test kits distributed, radon levels in both Electoral Area H (22 per cent) and Hope (15 per cent) exceeded the provincial average of homes over 200 Bq/m3 (eight per cent),” the report noted.
Radon mitigation systems can be installed, and the price can vary. According to the report, the average cost to install a system in 2019-20 was $3,300 and some can cost more than $9,000.
“While some provinces offer rebates or partial funding for radon mitigation, British Columbia currently does not,” the report said.
Jill Hall, a local realtor who has led the charge on radon awareness is frustrated with Public Health.
“I have made multiple calls and emails over two-and-a-half years with no follow up on a radon awareness campaign,” she said. “The health of the public is their mandate and further deaths from lung cancer due to breathing in radioactive gases, a known latent defect, is a liability issue. I am hoping to see strong radon address with public health now that FVRD are requesting funding for more testing and mitigation costs for their community due to very high radon levels found in multiple homes.”
More info on radon testing and local results can be found online at https://www.chilliwack.com/main/page.cfm?id=3037