High Radon Levels Estimated in 30 Percent of NW Metro Homes
New data from the Minnesota Department of Health indicate that people living in poverty and more rental housing areas are less likely to protect themselves from radon. In the northwest suburbs alone, officials say 30% of homes have high radon levels.
Radon is an invisible, odorless gas that can cause lung cancer. Radon is produced from the natural decay of uranium and radium, found in rocks and soil. Uranium breaks down to radium, and radium eventually decays into the gas radon. The gas moves up from the soil and into the home. It can then accumulate in the air and become a health concern.
The EPA says 21,000 lung cancer deaths per year are caused by radon exposure in the country.
Health experts say two in five homes in Minnesota have high levels. They say the cost to mitigate it can be a significant barrier for some Minnesotans.
“I think the main issue is the cost. Mitigation systems do cost $1,500 to $2,500. For a lot of people, that’s simply out of reach so they have other priorities. These people don’t often test and if they do test, they don’t have the resources to fix their homes,” explained Daniel Tranter, Minnesota Dept. of Health indoor air unit supervisor.
A radon test kit costs between $5 and $30 depending on the type of kit. The department is working to determine how to address areas most in need.