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Tom Kosatsky
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Tom Kosatsky
2015-06-18 17:22
Yes, a becquerel.
View Wladyslaw Lizon Profile
CPC (ON)
I understand—and I don't know, so correct me if I'm wrong—that the radon gas we get at home would probably have different levels of radioactivity. How does this unit refer to the level of radioactivity in a gas? As I understand it, it's not only the level of the gas itself, but there's also the time of exposure. I would assume that the level of radioactivity plays a very important role here as well.
Tom Kosatsky
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Tom Kosatsky
2015-06-18 17:23
It's slightly complicated, but I'll get onto one of my other hobby horses, for what it's worth. It's not the radon itself that causes the lung cancer; it's the so-called degradation products of the radon. Radon is an inert gas, so it doesn't attach itself to lung linings. It's when radon transforms itself by atomic degradation into a radioactive metal that the problem occurs, because that attaches to your lungs. That attaches to dust, so more dust in your house is a bad thing if you also have radon. That's really what causes the damage.
A becquerel is a unit of disintegration. One becquerel per metre cubed is one disintegration per cubic metre of space, so that 750 becquerels per metre cubed is 750 disintegrations per cubic metre of space.
Sarah Henderson
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Sarah Henderson
2015-06-18 17:24
That's disintegrations per second.
Tom Kosatsky
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Tom Kosatsky
2015-06-18 17:24
Yes, per second per cubic metre. Pardon me.
Each one of those alpha particles that either the radon itself or the metals it produces or releases causes a packet of energy to get into any cell it's next to. Radon gas itself, because it doesn't react—it's inert chemically—tends to be farther away. The radon-related metals that it produces tend to be very close to the cell linings. When they also release these alpha particles, it's the alpha particles themselves that wreck the nucleus of the cell and that ultimately cause lung cancer.
View Ben Lobb Profile
CPC (ON)
View Ben Lobb Profile
2015-06-18 17:25
A short comment, please, Mr. Lizon.
View Wladyslaw Lizon Profile
CPC (ON)
Yes, very short, Mr. Chair, because we were talking about an awareness campaign. Speaking for my constituents, the majority of them have no idea that we have radon and no idea about statistics.
When I go to a doctor's office, I see brochures about doing the PSA test or about checking my heart. I've never seen a brochure about checking my home for radon. Do you have any comments on that?
Tom Kosatsky
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Tom Kosatsky
2015-06-18 17:25
Both Health Canada and the BCCDC have encouraged doctors—those of us in British Columbia and Health Canada across the country—and have had awareness campaigns for physicians. We have issued pamphlets to physicians and have put it in the medical literature. Doctors can help with this, especially if their patients are smokers or live in high radon areas. They can do a lot to encourage people to do something to protect themselves from lung cancer. We could all do more, but we wouldn't need to do more if we'd build it out in the first place.
View Ben Lobb Profile
CPC (ON)
View Ben Lobb Profile
2015-06-18 17:26
Thank you.
Mr. Hsu, go ahead, sir.
View Ted Hsu Profile
Lib. (ON)
Thank you.
My first question is just to satisfy my curiosity a little bit. I'm trying to interpret one of the graphs that Ms. Henderson produced. It's the one where at the top of the page there are different numbers corresponding to becquerels. There's a jump in the graph for women for higher radon areas, from between 400 and 300. Is that just statistics?
Sarah Henderson
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Sarah Henderson
2015-06-18 17:26
Yes, it will be statistics. Basically, we're taking the province of British Columbia and we're saying, okay, if we draw the line in the sand at 300, these areas are higher-radon and those areas are lower-radon; and if we draw it at 400, these areas are higher-radon and those areas are lower-radon. The more area we have that is higher-radon, the more data we'll have from that area, and things will stabilize a little bit.
When you're talking about pretty unpopulated areas of the region, there are not that many lung cancer deaths in any given year, so it's definitely a statistical thing where the data get more stable as the threshold gets lower.
View Ted Hsu Profile
Lib. (ON)
Okay.
The y axis of these graphs doesn't cross at zero. Presumably there's a whole bunch of lung cancer from smoking, and then on top of that you're seeing the effects—
Sarah Henderson
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Sarah Henderson
2015-06-18 17:27
That's right. This is all lung cancers. We don't know which ones are attributable to smoking and which ones are attributable to radon. All we can say is that the areas with more radon and the areas with less radon have different patterns.
View Ted Hsu Profile
Lib. (ON)
Okay.
Is this the only study that has picked out the difference between male and female trends in high radon regions over time?
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