SUDBURY, ON – Since 2016, Dr. Leslie Sutherland, Scientist at Health Sciences North Research Institute (HSNRI) has been researching the impacts of radon, building a unique research program which is not found anywhere else in Ontario. With recent funding from the NEO Kids Foundation, this research project is now moving into its second phase. 

Dr. Sutherland is examining how the exposure of radon is altering human cells of the lung, at the molecular level. “I am excited to move into the second phase of the study and build upon the intriguing results we gathered in phase 1 of this potentially ground-breaking research,” said Dr. Leslie Sutherland, Scientist, HSNRI. “This research will hopefully help build public awareness to the exposure of radon, and provide insight into how human cells respond to what are currently considered low doses.” 

Exposure to radon, an odourless, tasteless chemical unable to be detected by the senses, is the primary cause of non-smoking related lung cancers. Research also shows a link between the exposure of radon and other cancers such as lymphoma, myeloma and leukemia. Leukemia is the type of cancer most often found in children. Exposure to radon occurs largely as a result of accumulation in enclosed spaces, such as homes, schools and commercial/office buildings “. “Research into the causes of childhood cancer is extremely important to us”, says Patricia Mills, President of NEO Kids Foundation. “We want our children to be healthy and disease-free and research helps with this goal.”

The potential harm of radon exposure is not being researched by many. There is a lack of scientific research to truly understand the potential effects of radon exposure in confined spaces or even in the food supply chain. Dr. Sutherland is building a unique research program that will impact the health of Northern Ontarians. “This research is one of a kind in Northern Ontario and is allowing us to better understand the unique challenges associated with living in a region with high levels of radon. Though being carried out in Northern Ontario, the findings from Dr. Sutherland’s research program have a global impact,” says Dr. Janet McElhaney, Vice President of Research and Scientific Director of HSNRI.  
Dr. Sutherland’s research takes place at HSNRI Walford Laboratories in Sudbury, ON. Dr. Sutherland is a scientist at Health Sciences North Research Institute and affiliated with Laurentian University.