January is national radon awareness and radon action month. Has your home or living space been tested?
Radon/radon gas is an odorless gas produced from the natural decay of uranium and radium found in rocks and soil. Radon gas is in the soil meaning it can move up through said soil and into our homes and accumulate in the air we breath. Radon gas decays into radioactive particles that when breathed can cause lung damage. According to the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH), exposure to radon over an extended period of time can cause lung cancer with 21,000 lung cancer deaths each year due to radon exposure. Radon exposure is the number one cause of lung cancer for nonsmokers and number two cause for smokers per MDH.
Due to our geology and how we operate our homes (closed up and heated much of the year), Minnesota’s radon levels are THREE TIMES higher than national levels. Thus, radon in Minnesota is a public health concern, per the Minnesota Department of Health.
The Environmental Protection Agency “has set an action level at 4 pCi/L (picocuries of radon per liter of air)”. Though impossible to reduce radon levels to zero, there are mitigation techniques and systems available to reduce radon levels in a home.
This is scary, yes, but there is a wealth of information, educational material and radon testing kits and options available to us and we need to take advantage!
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 or slab, an open sump pit and/or an untreated crawl space to name a few.
MDH states/recommends homes be tested for radon as this is the only way to find out how much radon is in your home; testing should be completed every 2-5 years and/or after making any changes to the foundation or heating/cooling and ventilation systems. You can do it yourself with a short (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 heating months and long term is recommended to be completed during a combination of unheated and heated months if possible.
AirChek has short term radon test kits available for $9.95; this includes postage, analysis and report and Radonova has long term kits available for $22.98 with code MN4RADON. Financial assistance is available for radon test kits as well.
Below are links from MDH with more detailed information regarding radon testing, regulations and keeping your home safe.