Minnesota homes need to be tested for radonIt is sure cold outside! Now that we have our houses all sealed up for these long winter months, it’s a perfect time to test for radon in our homes.
By: By Amy Reineke, Public Health educator, Alexandria Echo Press
It is sure cold outside! Now that we have our houses all sealed up for these long winter months, it’s a perfect time to test for radon in our homes.
What is radon? Radon is produced from the soil and found nearly everywhere. It is a colorless, odorless and invisible radioactive gas that seeps up from the earth through dirt and rocks and into the air we breathe.
When inhaled, it gives off radioactive particles that can damage cells that line the lungs. Long-term exposure to radon can lead to lung cancer. In fact, more than 21,000 lung cancer deaths in the U.S. each year are from radon.
Radon is a serious problem in Minnesota. High radon levels are found in each state, but in Minnesota one in three homes has radon levels that pose a significant health risk. Nearly 80 percent of counties in Minnesota, including Douglas and Pope, are rated high radon zones (primarily the western, central and southern counties of the state).
Any kind of home can have radon, no matter the age and the type of foundation. Minnesota Department of Health recommends that all Minnesota homeowners test their home for radon. A radon test is the only way to find out how much radon is in your home.
The test is easy, inexpensive and takes only a few minutes of your time to set up. The most difficult part is remembering to send the canister to the lab for analysis after three to five days.
Tests should be done in the lowest level of the home that is frequently occupied. Once you have tested, further action can be taken based on your results. The average cost to install a radon reduction system, if needed, is $800 to $2,500.
Here are some radon testing guidelines:
• Minnesota Department of Health recommends every Minnesota home, even those built radon-resistant, be tested.
• You should retest your home every two to five years and save your results.
• Be sure to test before and after you make any major structural renovations such as building an addition or finishing a basement. Radon resistant techniques can be inexpensive and included as part of the renovation, if needed.
• You should also perform a radon test after buying a new heating system or adding central air conditioning.
To obtain a kit, contact Douglas/Pope County Public Health to purchase one for $5. Contact the Public Health office in Douglas County at (320) 763-6018 and in Pope County at (320) 634-5720 or visit EPA’s National Radon Action Month website at www.epa.gov/radon/nram.