Indoor Radon Characteristics in Canadian Arctic Regions

  •  Jing Chen    


Radon is a naturally occurring radioactive gas generated by the decay of uranium bearing minerals in rocks and soils. Exposure to indoor radon has been identified as the second leading cause of lung cancer after tobacco smoking. In an indoor environment, there are many factors affecting indoor radon concentrations. Those factors could be different in the Arctic regions than the rest of Canada. Based on the results from recently completed Canadian residential radon survey, this technical note assessed indoor radon characteristics and associated radiation doses in Canadian Arctic regions and compared them to the average radon characteristics in Canada. In Arctic health regions the percentage of homes above 200 Bq/m3 varied from 0% in Nunavut to 19.6% in Yukon Territory. On average, indoor radon characteristics in the Canadian Arctic regions are similar to the overall indoor radon characteristics in Canada. Although there are no significant differences in indoor radon exposure between the Canadian Arctic and rest of Canada, the average lung cancer incidence rate in the Arctic health regions is a factor of 1.6 higher than the national average lung cancer rate. The higher lung cancer rate in Canadian Arctic is likely due to the higher smoking rate in the northern communities.

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