January is national radon awareness and radon action month. Has your home or living space been tested recently? The only way to find out if radon is in your home is by testing. The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) recommends that homeowners should test their homes for radon every 2-5 years and/or after making any changes to the foundation or heating/cooling and ventilation systems.
What is radon?
Radon is an odorless gas produced from the natural decay of uranium and radium found in rocks and soil. It can move up through the soil and into our homes and accumulate in the air we breathe every day. Due to our geology and how we operate our homes due to weather (Windows kept shut, drafts sealed up and the heat source turned on much of the year here in Duluth), Minnesota’s radon levels are THREE TIMES higher than national levels.
A few things to keep in mind; radon can enter a home through any type of foundation, it’s not just a “basement thing”. Some pathways or routes include: cracks in the foundation (Hello, 108-year-old Hillside house) or slab, an open sump pit and/or an untreated crawl space, to name a few.
Radon gas decays into radioactive particles that when breathed can cause lung damage. Exposure to radon in your air over an extended period of time can cause lung cancer. The Minnesota Department of Health reports an average of 21,000 lung cancer deaths each year due to radon exposure alone. Radon exposure is the number one cause of lung cancer for nonsmokers and the number two cause for smokers per the MDH findings.
Don’t be scared!
This can all seem scary, yes, but there is a wealth of information, educational materials, and radon testing kit options available to us, and we need to take advantage of it all!
You can test the radon levels in your home yourself with a short-term (2-7 days) or long-term (90+ days) test kit, or you can hire a professional to complete the testing. Short-term testing should be done during the months you have your home heated and long-term testing is recommended to be completed during a combination of unheated and heated months if possible.
For National Radon Action Month AirChek has short-term radon test kits available for $12.95; this includes postage, analysis, and report. The Minnesota Department of Health in partnership with Radonova has long-term kits available for $39.98 with discount code MN4RADON, and short-term kits available at 15% off with discount code MN4RAPIDOS.
* prices and discount codes as of January 19, 2022
Though impossible to have zero radon gas in your home, there are mitigation techniques and systems available to reduce radon to safe levels in a home when and if needed. With the help of professionals, your mind can be at peace with the air you and your family are breathing. We are not experts by any means, so please visit the MDH resources to learn more information.