July 12, 2016
New MDH map shows radon levels across the state
About 2 in 5 homes have dangerous levels; every home should be tested
The Minnesota Department of Health has launched a new online tool to help residents get a more accurate picture of radon levels in their counties.
Radon is an odorless, colorless, gas that occurs naturally in Minnesota soils. It is the leading cause of lung cancer among nonsmokers. More than 21,000 lung cancer deaths each year in the U.S. are linked to radon.
Radon can enter homes through cracks or openings in walls or foundations. The only way for a resident to know if their home has high levels of radon is to test. Radon is a problem everywhere in Minnesota, and everyone in every county should test their home. Renters should also test their homes and discuss the results with their landlords.
MDH created the new interactive county radon maps and charts using five years of data from 2010-2014 with more than 86,000 properties tested. The analysis found that properties in 78 percent of Minnesota counties have high average radon levels (4 pCi/L or above). For levels of 4 pCi/L or higher, MDH recommends taking action, including installing a radon mitigation system. Health officials say about two in five Minnesota homes have dangerous levels of radon gas.
“Radon is a problem all across Minnesota but it can be hard to know if you have a problem because you can’t see it or smell it,” said Dan Tranter, MDH indoor air program supervisor. “With the housing market heating up this summer, it is important for home buyers know their rights and get potential homes tested for radon so any problems can be fixed before buying a house.”
The 2014 Minnesota Radon Awareness Act requires sellers to inform home 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, sellers must provide a warning statement and a two-page publication about radon to the buyer. Radon tests can be incorporated into a home inspection. The law does not require radon testing or mitigation; only disclosure of whether testing or mitigation of the home has been done. There is no disclosure or notification requirement when signing a lease, unlike when buying a home.
Testing is easy, inexpensive and only takes three to five days. Test kits are available at city and county health departments, many hardware stores or directly from radon testing laboratories. A list of participating health agencies and test kit vendors can be found on MDH’s radon website.
Tests should be done in the lowest level of the home that is frequently occupied. If your home’s level is at or above 4 piC/L, you should consider verification testing and having a radon mitigation system installed. MDH maintains a list of certified radon mitigation contractors.
For more information on radon testing and mitigation, visit MDH’s radon website 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 CanSAR.