Through the results of a routine CT scan for an unrelated ailment, Virginia Killin was diagnosed with stage 3 lung cancer. She was shocked, scared and confused. She had never smoked. She hadn’t been exposed to second-hand smoke since 1975. How, she wondered, could she have lung cancer?
That’s when she learned about radon and how it was the leading cause of lung cancer among non-smokers. She got her house tested for this dangerous gas, and found that her basement – a place where she would relax, watch movies, paint and feel safe – was killing her and her family.
According to Health Canada, the guideline for indoor radon exposure is 200 becquerels. When her basement was tested it was 740 becquerels.
The Lung Association is a leader in raising radon awareness in the general public and with health-care providers. We educate on what radon is, how it impacts lung health and encourage all homeowners to test their homes for it.
We have also advocated for radon legislation and a potential amendment to the Ontario Building Code on new building construction to include radon protection guidelines. The Lung Association provides information on accessing radon test kits and certified radon professionals if further action is required after a radon test is completed.
During Radon Action Month in November we partnered with the Chief Public Health Officer of Canada and Mike Holmes Jr. to educate Canadians about radon and inform them that high radon levels can be fixed. This resulted in an increase of orders for radon test kits.
While Virginia has taken the necessary steps to mitigate radon levels in her home, she has had to have surgery and chemotherapy to treat her lung cancer. She will have checkups regularly now with her oncology team in the years she has left. She desperately wants people to be aware of this issue so they do not become a victim of radon like she did.