1 out of 3 MN homes exposed to high levels of silent but deadly (... and odorless) gas
A U of M expert discusses radon, a toxin that kills 20,000 Americans each year
January is Radon Awareness Month, and we’re pretty confident the colorless, tasteless and odorless radioactive gas isn’t top of mind for too many Minnesotans. But it probably should be.
Did you know that about one in three Minnesota homes has high levels of radon? Or that prolonged exposure to radon accounts for more than 20,000 American deaths each year, killing more people than drunken driving or drowning?
In fact, radon is also the second leading cause of lung cancer, behind smoking.
Radon is most often found in basements, where it can leak through cracks or pipe entries, eventually getting into the air. But the good news is that, once detected, radon can often be mitigated.
A University of Minnesota expert who can provide insight into radon detection and removal is:
Peter Raynor, Ph.D., associate professor of environmental health at the School of Public Health.
According to Raynor, a simple radon test is highly recommended for homeowners, and the winter months are ideal for testing.
“Probably the best thing to do is to purchase a short-term test kit that you can get from your city or county, or at most home improvement stores,” said Raynor. “These kits usually allow you to test over the course of three days and send the sample to a company that will analyze the result — all for less than $10 in most cases.”
If radon exceeds certain levels, Raynor said the Environmental Protection Agency recommends that mitigation be performed. National Environmental Health Association-certified contractors can do the job effectively.
“My own home actually required radon mitigation when I tested it back in the early 2000s,” said Raynor.
To interview Raynor, contact Jay Boller, Academic Health Center, at (612) 624-2449.
Expert Alert is a service provided by the University News Service. Delivered regularly, Expert Alert is designed to connect university experts to today's breaking news and current events. For an archive and other useful media services, visit umn.edu/news. Views expressed by experts do not necessarily represent the views of the University of Minnesota.