April 9, 2014
One hundred builders now offer highly effective radon resistant new homes
The Minnesota Department of Health recently reached 100 builders in its Gold Standard for Radon Resistant New Construction (RRNC) Program. Builders that choose to participate in this program offer a radon fan to their customers. This fan yields greater radon reduction than the existing radon resistant features in new homes.
Radon is the leading environmental cause of cancer deaths in the United States and the leading cause of lung cancer among non-smokers. More than 21,000 lung cancer deaths are attributed to radon each year in the U.S.
Fortunately, the risk is largely preventable, by testing, fixing existing homes, and building new homes radon resistant. About 2 in 5 Minnesota homes have dangerous levels of radon gas, and indoor air specialists at MDH say every home should be tested.
Radon is an odorless, colorless and tasteless radioactive gas that occurs naturally in Minnesota soils. It can enter into all kinds of homes through cracks or openings in walls or foundations. The only way for residents to know if their home has radon is to test.
Since 2009, all new homes are required by code to be built with passive radon resistant features. About 1 in 5 of these newer homes have radon above the recommended action level; this is an improvement over the levels found in the overall Minnesota housing stock where about 2 in 5 homes have elevated levels. MDH encourages builders to activate the passive RRNC features through the addition of a radon fan, and recommends new home buyers request this feature be added during construction. In these new homes with radon fans, MDH has found very low radon concentrations similar to background levels.
MDH has been promoting the Gold Standard for Radon Resistant New Construction to builders for over three years. Companies that participate in this program are promoted through MDH’s website and print advertising and receive a point towards the Green Path designation. In addition, MDH provides technical support to builders, such as free radon fans for model homes and radon test kits.
Another important development affecting both new home and existing home sales is a new law requiring more detailed disclosure and information about radon in Minnesota homes during most residential real estate transactions. This law went into effect January 1, 2014. It requires sellers to inform buyers whether their home has been tested for radon and, if so, what the levels are and whether the home has been mitigated for radon. In addition, a radon warning statement and 2-page publication must be provided to buyers.
For more information on radon, including the Gold Standard for Radon program, the Radon Awareness Act, and to find test kits 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. To see how radon has affected the lives of cancer patients and their families visit www.CanSar.org.