In a commentary recently published in Environmental Health Review, the Canadian Environmental Law Association (CELA) joined the Canadian Partnership for Children’s Health and Environment (CPCHE), the Canadian Child Care Federation, public officials, and radon experts in calling for mandatory action on radon in child care settings.
Radon is a naturally occurring radioactive soil gas that can build up to harmful levels in indoor spaces. It is a known carcinogen and the second leading cause of lung cancer in Canada. Despite its known risks and the availability of testing and remediation measures, most child care facilities in Canada are not tested to ensure that radon levels are below the Canadian guideline.
The authors of the report examined recent efforts to promote radon action in the child care sector and conclude that voluntary approaches that rely on child care staff to “go it alone” in ensuring radon safety often fall short. Such approaches are unlikely to achieve radon safety at every child care program and thus could exacerbate health inequities given uneven resources and capacity.
A review of the regulatory landscape reveals specific requirements for radon testing in child care facilities remain scarce in Canada, despite their existence elsewhere. Other available legal instruments that address radiation more generally, and that could apply to radon in child care facilities, are underutilized. The authors of the report argue that, whether through regulations, licensing requirements or ministry-funded programs, a comprehensive approach to radon safety in child care settings is needed to protect both children and staff.