Now that the pandemic has forced many people to spend more time in their homes, their potential exposure to household health hazards may be greater. This means it is more important than ever to know if your home has high levels of radon – the invisible radioactive gas found at elevated levels in many Minnesota homes.
Radon is an odorless, colorless and tasteless gas that occurs naturally in Minnesota soils all over the state. The only way for residents to know if their home has radon is to test. More than 21,000 lung cancer deaths are attributed to radon each year in the United States. Radon is the leading cause of lung cancer among non-smokers. Fortunately, the risk is largely preventable through testing homes and fixing radon problems.
“Unfortunately, many people are still being exposed to high levels of radioactive radon who don’t know it. With more people working and schooling from home, it’s especially important now to test your home,” said Dan Tranter, supervisor of the Indoor Air Program at the Minnesota Department of Health.
Test devices are placed in the home for 2-5 days. The best time to test is during the heating season, but testing can be done year-round.
MDH is partnering with local public health departments and other organizations to raise awareness and make test kits available to Minnesotans at low or no cost. Lists of participating health agencies and vendors can be found on the MDH website at Radon Testing. Hardware stores may also stock test kits. Licensed professionals can also conduct testing.
About 40% of Minnesota homes have dangerous levels of radon.
Tests should be done in the lowest level of the home that is frequently occupied. In homes found to have high radon levels, radon reduction typically involves installing a venting pipe and fan to pull the gas from under the home to the outside. This reduces the amount of radon in the home to low levels. Professionals conducting radon mitigation must be licensed by MDH, follow standards and affix a MDH tag to the system. A list of currently licensed radon mitigation professionals can be found on the Find a Radon Mitigation Professional page on the MDH website.
To learn more about radon risks, testing, mitigation and licensure in Minnesota go to the MDH website: https://www.health.state.mn.us/communities/environment/air/radon/
or call the MDH Indoor Air Unit at 651-201-4601 or 1-800-798-9050.