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Radon is an odorless, colorless and tasteless radioactive gas that poses a significant health risk. It occurs naturally in Minnesota soils and enters homes through cracks or openings in walls or foundations. It is the leading cause of lung cancer in non-smokers. Fortunately, the risk of lung cancer from radon exposure is largely preventable by testing homes and fixing radon problems. Winter is the best time to test your home for radon, and Rice County Public Health is encouraging people to stop by now and pick up a free test kit.
About 2 in 5 Minnesota homes have dangerous levels of radon gas (4pCi/L or above), and Rice County levels are even higher with 3 in 5 homes having test results at or above 4 pCi/L. The average level of radon in Rice County homes is about 5.9 pCi/L. State health officials recommend that every home be tested. Renters also should ask landlords to test their homes or provide previous test results.
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 year-round. 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 certified radon mitigation contractors at http://www.health.state.mn.us/divs/eh/indoorair/radon/mitigation.html
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. In addition, sellers must provide a warning statement and a 2-page publication to the buyer. Radon tests can be incorporated into a home inspection, however the law does not require testing or mitigation.
In Minnesota, homes built since 2009 are required to have passive radon resistant features. MDH encourages builders to activate the passive radon resistant features through the addition of a radon fan. In addition, new home buyers can request the fan be added during construction. In new homes with radon fans, MDH has found very low radon concentrations.
Free radon test kits are available at Rice County Public Health, located in the lower level of the Rice County Government Services building in Faribault at 320 3rd Street N.W. and also at the Rice County office location in Northfield, at 801 Washington Street.
For more information on radon testing and mitigation, 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.
Sara Coulter, Rice County Public Health Clinic & Community Supervisor (507) 332-5910
Deb Purfeerst, Rice County Public Health Director, (507) 332-6111
Sara Folsted, Rice County Administrator, (507) 332-6121