Testing for radon

Radon testing kits are key to making sure you do not have the odorless, colorless and tasteless gas.

Radon is the leading environmental cause of cancer deaths in the United States and the leading cause of lung cancer among nonsmokers. More than 21,000 lung cancer deaths are attributed to radon each year in the U.S. About 2 in 5 homes in Minnesota have dangerous levels of radon. Otter Tail County Public Health recommends every home be tested.

Fortunately, the risk is largely preventable, by testing homes and fixing radon problems. To help residents get a more accurate picture of radon, the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) launched a radon data portal. The portal includes interactive maps that describe radon levels and disparities in testing and mitigation rates. The portal can be found on the MDH website: data.web.health.state.mn.us/web/mndata/radon.

Radon is an odorless, colorless and tasteless radioactive gas that occurs naturally in Minnesota soils. It can enter 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.

Testing is easy, inexpensive and only takes 3-7 days. The best time to test is during the heating season, but testing can be done all year. A limited supply of free test kits is available at Otter Tail County Public Health offices. They may also be purchased at hardware stores, or directly from radon testing laboratories. 

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 pCi/L, you should consider verification testing and having a radon mitigation system installed. Anyone interested in mitigating his or her home for radon should consult MDH’s list of radon mitigation professionals: health.state.mn.us/communities/environment/air/radon/mitigation.

Minnesota law requires disclosure and information be provided to buyers about radon during Minnesota home sales. The law 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. Radon tests can be incorporated into a home inspection. The law does not require radon testing or mitigation.

Another law requires all new homes built since 2009 be built with passive radon resistant features. New home buyers can request a radon fan be added during construction. In new homes with radon fans, MDH has found very low radon concentrations. For more information on radon visit ottertailcountymn.us or health.state.mn.us/radon.

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