Health Canada lists radon as the second leading cause of lung cancer in Canada after smoking. (Photo credit: wired_gr)

Report finds school radon testing varies across Canada

November 30, 2017

A follow-up report by CAREX (CARcinogen EXposure) Canada reveals radon testing varies greatly across public schools in Canada. Radon, a radioactive gas that is both odourless and colourless, can easily accumulate indoors in schools where children and staff spend a lot of their time. Health Canada lists radon as the second leading cause of lung cancer in Canada after smoking.

“We found that while some provinces have tested for radon in all public schools, testing in some of the more populated provinces is still very low,” says SFU health sciences professor Anne-Marie Nicol, a co-principal investigator at CAREX Canada.

While radon testing continues to increase, with 500 schools looking to test in 2018. Nicol says the lack of radon testing in some regions is problematic, as it is the only way to determine whether dangerous radon levels are present.

Currently, there is no national legislation requiring school testing in the country, however Health Canada recommends testing in all public spaces.


  • Yukon, Saskatchewan, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island have tested all public schools
  • British Columbia, Alberta, Manitoba, Ontario and Newfoundland have low rates of radon testing in schools
  • New schools in some provinces are being designed to facilitate remediation for elevated levels of radon
  • Health Canada’s radon guidelines recommends remediation when levels exceed 200 Bq/m3, in order to reduce the risk of radon
  • CAREX Canada is a national surveillance project that estimates the number of Canadians exposed to cancer-causing substances
  • CAREX Canada is funded by the Canadian Partnership Against Cancer, an independent organization funded by Health Canada to accelerate action on cancer control