For the past year, the Red Lake Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Air Program and the Red Lake Housing Authority have partnered in an effort to improve the indoor air quality of homes. Together, with the help of a US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) grant, these programs have been testing homes for radon and plan to mitigate those homes that were found to have radon levels above the EPA’s action level.
For this project, short-term, envelope-style radon test kits are being used; the test kits are placed in homes in order to measure radon levels. Kits are placed in homes and left untouched for 3 days, after which they are picked up and sent to a certified lab for analysis. Testing will continue through the spring.
If you would like to have your home tested for radon contact: Tim Spears at (218) 679-1643.
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.
Although there is no known safe level of radon gas in the home, the EPA and Minnesota Department of Health set the recommended action level for radon at 4.0 pCi/L – which means that if a tested level is over this amount, something should be done to reduce radon in the home.
For more information
For more information on the dangers of radon, visit the Minnesota Department of Health website http://www.health.state.mn.us or contact Jennifer Malinski at the Red Lake DNR (218) 679-1618 or the Housing Authority.