Radon testing in two northern Dene First Nation communities

Fiscal Year



Northlands Denesuline First Nation and Sayisi Dene First Nation, Manitoba

Principal Investigator

Pam Orr, Ph.D., University of Manitoba

Community Project Lead

Ivan Yassi and KJ Dettanikkeaze

Project Members

Linda Larcombe, PhD., Matthew Singer, Pamela Warkentin and Lizette Denechezhe



Project Summary

In 2012, the Cross-Canada Survey of Radon Concentrations in Homes (CCSORCH) found higher than average radon levels in Manitoba (23.7%) compared to the rest of Canada (7%). However, radon levels in many Northern Manitoba homes and specifically in homes  of the Northlands Denesuline First Nation (NDFN) and Sayisi Dene First Nation (SDFN) have not been tested. The purpose of this community-based project was to measure radon levels in homes in SDFN and NDFN, and to educate the communities about health research methods.

Radon detectors were installed in homes in the two communities: Northlands Denesuline First Nation and Sayisi Dene First Nation for at least 90 days. Also, a short questionnaire was administrated to collect information about the age and the type of the house, the type of foundation material, heat source and smoking status of the house. An infographic on radon was designed and distributed to participating households.

The results showed that almost 17% of tested houses had elevated levels of radon. According to the Health Canada guidelines, houses that have radon levels between 200 and 600 Bq/m3 should be remediated within 2 years whereas houses with radon levels above 600 Bq/m3 should be remediated within 1 year. The results of the indoor radon tests were communicated to the Chiefs and Councils as soon as they were obtained. Recommendations were made to secure funding for mitigation of houses with elevated radon levels, to test radon levels in houses that did not participate in this study and to incorporate radon mitigation strategies in the design and building of new houses. Reducing indoor radon levels has been shown to reduce the risk of lung cancer.