When Health Canada conducted a cross-country survey of radon levels, they found that an average of seven per cent of Canadian homes had excessive levels of the gas.

In Guelph, that figure stood at 18 per cent.

While many hardware stores offer do-it-yourself radon testing kits, Guelph has decided to take the responsibility into its own hands – to a point.

As of the beginning of this month, all building permits issued in Guelph are subject to radon testing and remediation.

Over the next two winters, the city expects to test 500 homes in all areas of the city, in part to help affected homeowners and in part to get a better handle on the larger problem.

“It’s not the same throughout the city. We want to understand where it’s more of a problem,” said Rob Reynen, Guelph’s manager of inspection services.

The testing won’t be done during the summer months because regularly opened windows make results less reliable, Reynen said.

Typically, higher levels of radon mean a higher concentration of uranium underground.

Anyone looking to lessen the amount of radon in their home can sink a pipe into the ground below their basement floor, attach a fan and vent the gas outdoors.

According to Health Canada figures, about 3,000 Canadians die each year due to long-term exposure to radon gas.

It’s considered the second-most common cause of lung cancer in Canadians, behind smoking.