Housing and Indoor Air Quality

Flooding

Residents who live in flood-prone areas need not be caught off guard. Although it may not always be possible to safeguard against floods, it is possible to take precautionary measures to minimize the possible health risks from floods. This document is a resource for flooding events. The direction provided in this document is for flood waters and its effect on our homes and environment and is not to be applied to incidents of sewage backups.

For private wells that have been affected by flooding an alternate supply of safe water should be obtained for drinking, cooking, brushing teeth, washing foods, making foods and making ice cubes. Information on how to test the water can be found here. Information on how to disinfect your well can be found here.

Flooding Resources

Mould

Please be aware that mould is not necessarily considered a health hazard. Health experts indicate that, depending on the type of mould present in a home, the amount and degree of exposure, and the health condition of the occupant, the health effects of mould can range from being insignificant to causing allergic reactions and illness. However, the landlord may have a responsibility to fix the problem if it is caused by something leaking or malfunctioning in your unit.

Radon

Radon is a gas formed by the breakdown of uranium, a natural radioactive material found in all soil and rock.  Radon gas mostly enters indoor spaces through soils surrounding a foundation. Radon can enter a home through any available opening: cracks in the foundation, construction joints, gaps around service pipes, floor drains, and sump pits.  In winter months when doors and windows are closed radon can easily concentrate too much higher levels. Radon is present in nearly every home throughout the country and it is impossible to accurately predict the radon levels within a home without properly testing the indoor air.

Prolonged exposure to confined indoor spaces with high radon levels can lead to increased risk of lung cancer.  The Cypress Health Region is encouraging homeowners to properly test their home to become aware of its radon levels and, if necessary, implement measures to reduce exposure to themselves and their family members.

While the majority of lung cancer deaths are caused by smoking, radon is the second leading known contributing factor to the disease with links to approximately 16% of lung cancer deaths in the country.  Smokers who live in homes with high radon levels are more susceptible with as many as 1 in 3 developing the disease.

A national study performed from 2009-2011 revealed an average of 7% of households in Canada have elevated radon levels. The proportion of homes was considerably higher in Saskatchewan (16%) and in the Cypress Health Region (26%).  Health Canada found that household levels vary even in the same neighbourhood and one can only know the levels in their own house through proper testing.

The current Canadian guideline for radon in indoor air for dwellings is 200 Becquerels per cubic metre (Bq/m3).  In a house with a radon level of 800 Bq/m3 the risk to one’s health becomes higher than all common accidental deaths combined including motor vehicle accidents, drownings, fire, and more.

The general public can purchase a radon test kit for their home from the Saskatchewan Disease Control Laboratory (SDCL) for $40 and will receive their result three weeks after returning the testing device.

Homes with levels higher than 200 Bq/m3 are encouraged to look into measures that can reduce their exposure. Common radon reduction methods include active soil depressurization (professional installation of a pipe/fan system to draw radon gas out of the ground), increased mechanical ventilation, and closure of all major openings into a home. Homes with high levels should not have family members sleeping in the basement and should be routinely aired out by opening windows, particularly during the winter months.

For more information on radon, its risks, and mitigation methods please visit www.healthcanada.gc.ca/radon or search ‘radon’ on the new www.saskatchewan.ca website. To purchase a radon home test kit please contact the Saskatchewan Disease Control Laboratory at 1-866-450-0000.

Rental Housing

Landlords have to maintain rental premises in a good state of repair and fit for habitation. Tenants must repair damages that they cause through their actions or neglect.

If you have any concerns with a rental property, you should first talk to the landlord and let them know what the problems are. It is best to put all problems in writing and give this to the landlord, or the person that takes care of these problems (e.g. the superintendent or property manager).

If, after being informed in writing, the landlord does not fix the problem within a reasonable time, or refuses to do the repairs, you have options for addressing the situation such as contacting the Office of Residential Tenancies (Rentalsman) 1.888.215.2222 for assistance.

Housing Resources

Housing Websites

Office of Residential Tenancies (Rentalsman)

Toll-free – 1.888.215.2222 (Saskatchewan only)
Toll-free Fax – 1.888.867.7776 (Saskatchewan only)

Regina Office

120-2151 Scarth Strett
Regina, SK  S4P 2H8
Phone: 306.787.2699
Fax: 306.787.5574

Saskatoon Office

Main Floor, Sturdy Stone Building
122 – 3rd Avenue North
Saskatoon SK S7K 2H6
Phone: 306.933.5680
Fax: 306.933.7030