January 5, 2012
Gov. Dayton proclaims January as Radon Action Month
Minnesota homes need to be tested for radon; winter is best time to test
Gov. Mark Dayton has proclaimed January "Radon Action Month" in Minnesota, urging residents to take simple and affordable steps to test their homes for harmful levels of radon gas.
Radon, a colorless, odorless gas, is the leading cause of lung cancer among non-smokers. Radon can seep into a home from underground and, if left to accumulate, high levels of radon can cause lung cancer. Health officials hope that by increasing public awareness of environmental health risks, such as radon, homeowners will take steps to improve indoor air quality, leading to healthier homes and communities.
In connection with Radon Action Month in the state and nation, the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) is engaged in a series of activities this month to promote awareness of radon as an important public health issue:
- More than 50 eye-catching backlit poster ads have been placed in the skyway systems of St. Paul, Minneapolis, Duluth and Rochester.
- In partnership with the Department of Public Safety (DPS), MDH produced a short video featuring the story of a young woman who wishes to educate all Minnesotans about radon after the death of her mother due to lung cancer. The video will run on the DPS YouTube channel later in January and will be linked from the MDH website.
- MDH Facebook posts and Twitter feeds will feature radon safety and awareness messages during January.
MDH is also recognizing the Twin Cities chapter of Habitat for Humanity for their efforts to build homes that meet the MDH Gold Standard for radon resistant new construction, ensuring the lowest achievable levels of radon. In 2011, Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity built 55 new homes to the Gold Standard with the assistance of 23,000 volunteers and numerous donors.
MDH has sent more than 5,000 radon test kits to 25 local public health agencies around the state that wish to distribute them to local residents. For details on how to obtain a kit, contact your local public health agency or MDH. A list of participating health agencies can be found on the MDH website at http://www.health.state.mn.us/divs/eh/indoorair/radon/rncontacts.html.
Radon a major health risk in Minnesota
MDH estimates that one in three existing Minnesota homes have radon levels that pose a large health risk over many years of exposure. Radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States and more than 21,000 deaths are attributed to radon each year. Radon exposure, however, is a preventable health threat.
Radon is odorless, colorless and tasteless, so the only way for homeowners to know if their home has elevated levels of radon is to test. Testing is easy, inexpensive and only takes 3-5 days. Most test kits are priced under $20 and are available at city and county health departments, many hardware stores, or directly from radon testing laboratories. Tests should be done in the lowest level of the home that is frequently occupied. Tests should not be done in laundry or utility rooms, kitchens or bathrooms. Once you have tested, further action can be taken based upon your results. If your home's level is over 4.0 PiC/L, you should consider verification testing and having a radon mitigation system installed. Anyone interested in mitigating their home for radon should consult MDH's list of certified radon mitigation contractors at http://www.health.state.mn.us/divs/eh/indoorair/radon/mitigation.html.
For more information on radon testing and mitigation visit www.health.state.mn.us/radon or call the Minnesota Department of Health Indoor Air Unit at 651-201-4601 or 1-800-798-9050.
MDH Indoor Air Unit