Do you know if you have a radon problem? The only way to be sure is to test your home. You can get a test kit from a lab or your county through the Minnesota Department of Health’s web site.
Radon is a colorless, odorless, radioactive soil gas that can enter homes through their foundations. It’s a health concern because it can increase your risk of lung cancer. In fact, radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer. In the United States, radon causes more than 20,000 lung cancer deaths a year.
Radon is found throughout the world; its prevalence is determined by soils and geology. In Minnesota, about 40 percent of homes have radon at levels high enough to be a health concern. There are elevated levels in all counties, making radon a widespread concern. Any home is at risk, regardless of age, draftiness, foundation type, or your neighbor’s levels.
Testing is the only way to know if your home has elevated radon levels. Fortunately testing is relatively inexpensive. Start with a short-term test (three to seven days). Follow-up testing can be done with another short-term test or a long-term test (three months). It’s also recommended that you test a home that you are buying, for example, as part of a home inspection.
If your home’s radon level is at or above 4.0 picoCuries per liter of air (pCi/L), you should hire a certified radon mitigator to install a system to reduce radon concentrations. The key to preventing health impacts from radon is to prevent it from entering your home. So mitigating it generally involves redirecting air from underneath your home to the outdoors using a pipe and fan.
New homes built since 2010 are required to have a radon pipe. When building a new home, consider adding a fan to the required pipe. This will activate the radon system and greatly reduce radon levels. Builders that offer fans are listed as Gold Standard Radon Resistant Builders.
You can learn more about radon, in various languages, by watching short radon videos.