Radon has long been known as the second leading cause of lung cancer, second to only smoking. A research study being conducted at Health Sciences North Research Institute (HSNRI) is looking to see if it is also linked to other forms of cancer. NEO Kids Foundation has facilitated a donation of $90,000 to Dr. Leslie Sutherland, Researcher at HSNRI to conduct a study which could change the lives of children and families.

Everyday across Canada, children are being exposed to radon, an odourless, tasteless chemical unable to be detected by the senses. It is found in buildings, schools and homes. Research shows a link between the exposure of radon and other cancers such as lymphoma, myeloma and leukemia. Leukemia is a cancer most often associated with children.

“Research is health care,” said Dr. Denis Roy, President and CEO of HSN and HSNRI. “The incidence of childhood cancer is on the rise. Not only will the research being conducted at HSNRI benefit children, it is studying the effects of radon right here in northeastern Ontario and could have global implications.”

Health Sciences North Research Institute’s Researcher Dr. Leslie Sutherland and Research Assistant Jose Knee will be conducting the study which is focused on answering the question, does long- term exposure to low levels of radon lead to cellular changes that could ultimately result in cancer?

“A study like this has never been done before, and we are excited to be part of this potentially ground-breaking research,” said Dr. Leslie Sutherland, Researcher, HSNRI. “Through the research we hope to increase public awareness of the potential dangers associated with radon exposure, be provided with greater insight into the cellular impact of low level radon exposure, and provide direction for future studies aimed at helping to prevent or treat radon-associated cancers.”

The study will look at what happens to DNA, the expression of genes within that DNA, and the growth of cells exposed to levels of radon that are not generally considered high enough to cause major DNA damage. 

“NEO Kids Foundation continues to show their support for children’s care in the northeast,” adds Dr. Roy.  “Today, they are champions for children’s research.” 

“NEO Kids Foundation’s mission is to be advocates for healthier children in the North,” said Patricia Mills, President, NEO Kids Foundation. “Caring for our youngest and most vulnerable patients does not start and end at the bedside. To better care for our children, we must better understand why and how they are falling ill.  We would like to thank Dr. Leslie Sutherland and HSNRI for conducting this research which could have global impact.”

About Radon

As per Health Canada, Radon is a radioactive gas that occurs naturally when the uranium in soil and rock breaks down. It is invisible, odourless and tasteless. When radon is released from the ground into the outdoor air, it is diluted and is not a concern. However, in enclosed spaces, like homes, it can sometimes accumulate to high levels, which can be a risk to the health of you and your family.