Saskatchewan Housing Corporation (SHC) has partnered with Lung Saskatchewan to test levels of Radon in SHC units within the province over the next 10 years. 

Radon is an odourless, colourless gas produced as a natural decay product of radium isotopes within rocks and soil. Epidemiological studies have shown a clear link between inhalation of high quantities of radon and the incidence of lung cancer. 

Radon is present in all areas of the country, but Saskatchewan has some of the highest levels in the nation alongside Yukon, Manitoba, and New Brunswick. Residents are advised to test their homes to ensure radon levels are within Health Canada guidelines. 

SHC will conduct tests by placing a canister in a suitable area within a home which will detect the levels of radon gas present in the structure. Suitable areas may include basements and low-lying spaces like crawlspaces where the heavier-than-air gas may accumulate by penetrating foundations.  

The tests will be performed over a ten-year period within the 18,000 units within the approximately 4500 buildings owned by the corporation. With testing to be done in the largest centers, including Regina, Saskatoon, Moose Jaw and Prince Albert over the first three years of the program. 

“We will give them one week’s notice and there won’t be any impact on (the tenants). It’s basically placing ... a small canister in an appropriate area, probably in the basement or crawl space. They may not even see it if they’re living in a unit that has a crawl space in it. So there would be minimal impact to the tenants,” said Roger Parenteau, Executive Director, Housing Operations of the Ministry of Social Services. 

If detected, SHC will work with local housing authorities to produce a remediation plan in which measures will be taken to remedy the situation. Proposed methods include sealing foundations and slabs, installation of mechanical air distribution systems and other methods of circulating contaminated air out while introducing fresh air into areas where radon accrues.  

Parenteau has some advice for residents with questions regarding the upcoming radon tests: 

“The local housing authority would be their best point of contact to reach out to them and get information. They will be equipped with a lot of this information, and they had any further questions they could always phone the housing corporations,” said Parenteau.  

“The health and safety of our tenants is very important and we’re trying to take some measures to ensure that their safety is in place,”