Radon enters a home

Radon gas can enter a home through various underground sources. (Image courtesy of Natural Resources Canada)

In partnership with the Minnesota Department of Health, Brown-Nicollet Environmental/Community Health will be offering radon test kits at no charge on a first come, first serve basis to homeowners beginning Jan. 4, 2021 during “Radon Action Month.”

As the office is currently closed to the public, short-term radon test kits will be distributed via drive-thru format from Jan. 4 through January 8 and by appointment only after Jan. 8. Pickup location is at the Nicollet County Health and Human Services Building, 622 S. Front St. in St. Peter. Drive-thru hours are 9 a.m. to noon and 2–4:30 p.m. Jan. 4-8.

The free test kits are limited and distribution will end when all free kits are gone. If you are interested, Brown-Nicollet staff ask that you call the office at 507-934-7089 to check on availability of kits and let us know that you are coming.

The testing for radon in your home is important, because we know that radon is the leading environmental cause of cancer deaths in the United States and the leading cause of lung cancer among non-smokers. More than 21,000 lung cancer deaths are attributed to radon each year in the United States.

Fortunately, the risk is largely preventable, by testing homes and fixing radon problems. About two in five Minnesota homes have dangerous levels of radon gas and state health officials say every home should be tested. To get an accurate picture of radon in Minnesota, visit the radon data portal on the MDH web site at: 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 buildings through cracks or openings in walls or foundations. The only way for residents to know if their home has radon is to test.

Testing takes two to seven days. The best time to test is during the heating season, but testing can be done year-round. Test kits are available at many city and county health departments, hardware stores, or directly from radon testing laboratories. A list of participating health agencies and test kit vendors can be found on the MDH website at health.state.mn.us/communities/environment/air/radon/rncontacts.html.

It is highly recommended to test during real estate transactions, for example, as part of a home inspection. MDH licenses home inspectors and other professionals who test for radon. A list of currently licensed radon measurement professionals can be found on the MDH site: health.state.mn.us/communities/environment/air/radon/findprof.html.

In homes found to have high radon levels, radon reduction typically involves installing a venting pipe and fan to pull the gas from under the home to the outside. This reduces the amount of radon in the home to low levels. Professionals conducting radon mitigation must be licensed by MDH, follow standards, and affix a MDH tag to the system. A list of currently licensed radon mitigation professionals can be found at health.state.mn.us/communities/environment/air/radon/mitigation.html.

For more information on radon, visit health.state.mn.us/radon or call Brown-Nicollet Environmental Health at 507-934-7089, or the Minnesota Department of Health Indoor Air Unit at 651-201-4601. To see how radon has affected the lives of cancer patients and their families visit CanSar.org.

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