Vancouver's How I did it: Alan Whitehead
Radon Environmental CEO Alan Whitehead raises awareness of the dangers of radonTue Apr 22, 2014
Thanks to increased recognition, Canada is starting to take radon pollution seriously.
“Ironically we formed Radon Environmental in 2007, and it wasn't until 2010 that my wife was diagnosed with lung cancer, but never smoked. I knew that there was a very good chance that the lung cancer was likely caused by exposure to high levels of radiation in a former home that we had lived in for five years in Ottawa.
“I reached out to the current owner of that home and said, ‘Look, my wife’s got lung cancer. We think there’s a chance that it could have been through exposure to radon gas." Following Janet’s diagnosis and surgery, the family reached out to the present occupant of the house, to advise them of her situation and their suspicions and encourage them to test the home for radon. The results were alarming with indoor radon concentrations in the living area and bedrooms measuring 3,250 Bq/M3, which is equal to 20 times the Health Canada guideline and 30 times the WHO guideline.
In 2010 Janet Whitehead was diagnosed with lung cancer at the age of 54 and immediately underwent successful surgery to remove her upper left lobe, one third of her lower left lobe and tumors in her right lobes. Janet had never smoked and subsequently learned that her lung cancer was apparently radon induced. Janet was exposed to exceptionally high levels of radon gas, in a former home in Ottawa, where the family lived for 5 years. Janet says “had we known about radon when we were living in Ottawa in 1992-97 and that the area is in a geologically high radon potential zone, we would have tested our home for radon and fixed the problem at that time. To put our situation into perspective, exposure to 400 Bq/M3 of radon for 8 hours is considered by radiation scientists to be equivalent to smoking a pack of cigarettes every day. I now worry about my husband and 3 children who were also exposed and I would encourage everyone to test their homes, schools and workplaces for radon. This is one deadly form of cancer which is totally preventable.”