Portage la Prairie library offers radon screening kits


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This article was published 16/11/2022 (195 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

The Portage la Prairie Regional Library has added an unusual new offering to its circulation.

On Nov. 1, the Portage la Prairie Regional Library launched the first radon screening kit program of its kind in Manitoba. The library now has on loan eight handheld digital devices that detect radon levels in homes and workplaces.

Library patrons can check out the devices, which come with instructions, for two weeks at a time.

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The Portage la Prairie Regional Library recently launched a free radon screening kit loaner program.

Portage la Prairie Regional Library director Jen Kendall said the response to the program has been tremendous. All eight devices were checked out on the first day. There’s already a hold list.

“Even my neighbours are asking me about the radon thing. It’s gotten a lot of interest in the community,” Kendall said, adding that she conducted a similar program at a library in Alberta.

Radon is an invisible, colourless and tasteless radioactive gas that occurs naturally when uranium, a solid element, breaks down in the earth. Radon can creep through a gap in a foundation before collecting in dangerous concentrations elsewhere in the building.

Pam Warkentin, the executive director of the Canadian Association of Radon Scientists and Technologists, explained that it can be difficult for radon to escape a building, particularly from November through May when less fresh air cycles through.

Research shows that some areas of Manitoba — particularly the southwest and northwest corners of the province — present some of the highest levels of radon in Canada, Warkentin explained. Two contributing factors, Warkentin said, include Manitoba’s silty soil and the traces of uranium that lie therein.

“We really encourage everybody to test their home,” Warkentin said.

Radon has been linked to lung cancer. As a radioactive material, when radon decays it releases energy. That release of energy has been known to damage lung tissue in such a way that can cause cancer, Warkentin said.

Elevated radon levels can be mitigated using a system that redirects air from below the building to the exterior without making any pit stops along the way. Those interested in learning more can find resources through the CARST website (www.carst.ca) and the Canadian National Radon Proficiency Program website (www.c-nrpp.ca).

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The library plans to run the radon test kit program for the foreseeable future.

“I haven’t had a lot of inquiries from (Portage la Prairie), which is another reason why I think it’s really great this library program has started,” Warkentin said.

The Portage la Prairie Regional Library’s new program kicked off Radon Action Month, a national initiative to raise awareness about radon in Canada. Radon Action Month is funded by Health Canada and led by CARST and the Canadian Cancer Society.

The Portage la Prairie Regional Library radon screening program is held in partnership with Central Plains Cancer Services, the Manitoba Lung Association and Take Action on Radon.

To reserve a radon screening kit from the Portage la Prairie Regional Library, go to www.portagelibrary.com

Katlyn Streilein

Katlyn Streilein
Community Journalist

Katlyn Streilein was a reporter/photographer for the Free Press Community Review.

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