THE BEST OF SOUTHWEST MINNEAPOLIS — brought to you by the Lynnhurst Neighborhood Association (LYNAS)
Our initial batch of free test kits has been distributed. Thank you to all the neighbors taking advantage. We expect to have more kits available at the Lynnhurst Neighborhood Association Summer Festival on August 7th. If you’d like to purchase a kit, the Minnesota Department of Health has recommendations on their site.
Radon Cancer Risk
Radon is a health concern, and is the second leading cause of lung cancer. The radioactive particles from radon gas when breathed in can damage the cells that line the lung. Long-term exposure to radon can then lead to lung cancer. In the United States, it is estimated that radon exposure is associated with 21,000 lung cancer deaths a year.
How to Tell if You Have Elevated Levels
Have you wondered if radon is a problem in your home or wanted to get more information on radon? Well, radon is found in nearly all soils. It is a colorless, odorless radioactive gas that comes up through the soil. Levels in outdoor air are usually much lower than indoor air. Houses can suck air from the soil and that draws radon gas in. The soil around your home is porous so the radon gas is able to move through the dirt and rocks and into the basement through pathways, like cracks in the concrete slab, and accumulate in the house.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommends taking action to reduce radon in homes that have a radon level at or above 4 picocuries per liter (pCi/L). The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) has data from over 1,500 radon home tests from the Lynnhurst neighborhood (zip codes 55149 and 55409). The results show that 34% of those homes had elevated radon levels (at or above 4.0 pCi/L). This is similar across the state. It is very difficult to tell which homes will have a high radon level. Homes that are next door to each other can have different indoor radon levels, making a neighbor’s test result a poor predictor of radon risk. So, it’s a good idea to test your home for radon.
Testing is the only way to know if your home has elevated radon levels. There are generally two tests that are used to detect radon, a short-term test and a long-term test. Because radon levels can vary from day to day and month to month, a long-term test is a better indicator of average radon level. However, the MDH recommends conducting a short-term test first. This is usually completed in only 3 to 7 days. If your short-term test result is greater than 8 pCi/L, MDH recommends conducting one more short-term test. If your short-term test result is between 2 to 8 pCi/L, MDH recommends conducting a long-term test. If the second test result, for either of those tests, is above 4.0 pCi/L then you should take action to reduce your household radon levels. Mitigation could be considered at levels between 2 to 4 pCi/L.
What to Do if You Have Elevated Levels
Certified radon mitigators can install a system to reduce radon concentrations. A list of certified mitigators is available at the MDH website at MDH Radon. The goal of a radon mitigation system is to reduce the indoor radon levels to below the EPA action level of 4.0 pCi/L, but many systems reduce concentrations below 2.0 pCi/L. The PBS series Ask This Old House visited a home in Minneapolis to install a radon mitigation system. The episode shows what to expect from a radon professional and how a system is installed. In general, costs can range from approximately $800-$2500, with the average reduction system costing approximately $1500. After a mitigation system is put
it, the home should be re-tested to verify radon reduction.
For more information about radon, contact: