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Is a lung cancer-causing gas seeping into your home? Here's what you need to know

Your home could be killing you.

When homes are sealed for the winter, there's little chance radon can escape.

Radon is an invisible, odourless, naturally occurring radioactive gas that can build up in any home – regardless of its size or when it was built.

A public health unit cautions people that exposure to elevated levels of radon in the home can, over time, cause lung cancer. Radon is second only to smoking as the leading cause of lung cancer in Canadians, accounting for about 16 per cent of all cases annually.

During Radon Action Month in November, Grey Bruce Public Health (GBPH) is encouraging residents to test their homes for radon and learn about the potential health effects of radon exposure and ways to prevent or reduce exposure.

"For non-smokers, radon exposure is the leading cause of lung cancer, which is the leading cause of cancer death in Canada," said Andrew Barton, senior public health manager at GBPH

"For smokers, exposure to high levels of radon increases their risk of developing lung cancer to 33 per cent," he said.

"Protecting yourself and your family from radon exposure starts with testing your in-home radon levels. Because you can't see, smell, or taste radon, testing is the only way to know if this gas is in your home," Barton said.

Health Canada is urging Canadians to check their homes for radon, a radioactive gas that occurs naturally in the ground and can leak into homes through foundation cracks or gaps around pipes. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)

Radon is released into the environment when uranium found in soil, rock, or water breaks down. When radon escapes into the outdoor air, it is diluted and not a cause for concern.

However, radon can seep into homes through cracks in the foundation, gaps around pipes or drains or any other opening where the house contacts the ground. Radon can easily build up in Canadian homes that are well-sealed for the winter weather.

November is the perfect time to test for radon, as Health Canada recommends measuring radon for at least three months, ideally during heating season.

Grey-Bruce residents can either purchase a radon test kit and perform the test themselves or hire a professional to test their home. Top Stories

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