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Radon gas detector kit wait list growing at P.E.I. libraries

A radon detection unit

JOHN McPHEE-The Chronicle Herald
A radon detection unit. John McPhee photo. -The Chronicle Herald
SUMMERSIDE, P.E.I. —

Anyone hoping to sign-out one of the new radon gas detectors from their local P.E.I. library is in for a bit of wait. 

Despite only being made available starting in late November, there is already a 74-person waiting list to access one of the devices. Each of the 15 units available can be signed out for a maximum of six weeks. Which means some people could be facing a wait of up to eight months. 

It’s a good problem to have as it shows Islanders are taking radon gas exposure seriously, said Robert MacDonald, president of the P.E.I. Lung Association. 

“It’s a great start on Prince Edward Island… it’s just going to grow.”  

Robert MacDonald, president of the P.E.I. Lung Association
Robert MacDonald, president of the P.E.I. Lung Association


He added that they are hopeful the success of the program will mean their funding partners will want to help increase the number of units available through the libraries. 

The detectors were made available thanks to a partnership between City of Charlottetown, the P.E.I. Public Library Service, Health Canada and the P.E.I. Lung Association. 

Radon is a naturally occurring gas that can accumulate to dangerous levels in low-lying areas of some homes. Prolonged exposure to radon is the leading cause of lung cancer for non-smokers in Canada according to the Canadian Lung Association.  

Beth Clinton, regional librarian with the P.E.I. Public Library Service, said she knew from experience that the program would be popular. The same initiative was rolled out in Nova Scotia a few years ago and it too saw an initial surge of interest from the public. 

“I wasn’t surprised. This program has been running in Nova Scotia libraries for some time … so I knew it would be initially very popular,” said Clinton. 

Nova Scotia ended up making more units available, which helped clear up the backlog, she said. 

The detectors available at the libraries are handheld devices that indicate the presence of radon in an enclosed area at any given time. 

Homeowners can use the devices to check for elevated gas levels which, if found, could indicate that a more long-term test is needed.

While the hand-held units available at the library can be reused indefinitely, long-term radon tests are single-use and have to be sent to a lab to determine their results. If they show high levels of the gas then it is recommended that homeowners take action to ventilate whatever area is showing elevated levels.

The long-term tests are available for $40 at http://pei.lung.ca/ or by calling 888-566-5864.

MacDonald said that any homeowner who doesn’t want to take the time to wait for a detector to become available from the library may want to consider just purchasing a long-term unit, just for the peace of mind. 


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