Red Lake DNR and Red Lake Housing to test homes for randon
Testing for Radon
During the upcoming months, the Red Lake Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Air Program and the Housing Authority will continue a partnership aimed at improving the indoor air quality of homes. Together, with the help of a US EPA grant, these programs plan to test a total of 50 homes for radon and mitigate those homes that are found to have elevated radon levels. This project is expected to continue through the summer.
Why do we care about radon?
Radon is a gas that seeps up from the earth into our homes. But, even though it is naturally produced in the soil as a breakdown product of uranium (which is found in nearly all types of soil), it can threaten our health and the health of those we care about.
Long-term exposure to radon can lead to lung cancer, even in otherwise healthy people. In fact, the Surgeon General has warned that radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer (only after smoking) in the United States. Additionally, if you smoke and your home has high radon levels, your risk of lung cancer is especially high.
How we are exposed to radon
Because radon is everywhere and because it is a colorless, odorless radioactive gas, we can be exposed without even knowing it. Radon concentrates indoors, so our greatest exposure happens while we are inside. 1 in 3 homes in Minnesota have radon levels that pose a significant health risk.
Radon can come into our homes through our floors and walls – anywhere that there is an opening between the soil and our home. Examples of these openings are unsealed sumps, dirt floor crawl spaces, and tiny cracks in concrete block walls.
For this project, short-term, envelope-style radon test kits will be placed in 50 homes in order to measure radon levels. They will be left in the home for 3 days; during this time the test kit must not be moved and the doors and windows of the home should not be left open. After the 3 days, test kits will be picked up and then sent to a certified lab for analysis.
Although there is no known safe level of radon gas in the home, the Environmental Protection Agency and Minnesota Department of Health set the recommended action level for radon at 4.0 pCi/L – which means if a tested level is over this amount, something should be done to reduce the level.
If you would like to have your home tested for radon, a limited number of free test kits are available through the DNR Air Program – for more information contact Jennifer Godwin at (218) 679-1618. Also, test kits can be purchased at most hardware or home supply stores and can also be purchased online. Testing is easy - just follow the instructions on the package.
After testing, houses that are found to have elevated radon levels (levels greater than 4.0 pCi/L) will be mitigated.
Mitigation techniques may be used to either prevent radon from entering the home or to reduce radon levels once it has entered the home. Methods that may be used include: sealing cracks in the home’s foundation, ventilation, subslab suction and submembrane suction (for crawl spaces).
Learn more about radon and this project at the Earth Day and Healthy Homes Event on April 19th, 2012. The event will be held at the Red Lake Casino Event Center between the hours of 11 am and 4 pm.
Information on radon was provided by the Minnesota Department of Health. For more information on the dangers of radon, visit their website http://www.health.state.mn.us or contact Jennifer Godwin at the Red Lake (DNR) (218) 679-1618 or the Housing Authority.