Now is the time to test your home for radon gas

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Low-priced short-term test kits are available at the Kendall County Health Department; they can also be purchased from local home and hardware stores. Long-term exposure can lead to lung cancer and is the second leading cause of lung cancer overall.

January is National Radon Action Month and the cold winter months are the best time to test for this odorless and colorless gas. Testing for radon during the cooler months is highly recommended as many doors and windows remain closed, leaving limited space for the invisible gas to escape.

The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) is partnering with local public health departments to make test kits available to Minnesotans at low or no cost.

One can't see, smell, or taste radon, but it could be present at a unsafe level in a home. However, radon exposure at any level poses some health risk, and homeowners may want to consider reducing radon levels if they are greater than 2 pCi/L. Radon occurs naturally in Minnesota soils, and enters homes through cracks or openings in walls or foundations.

The EPA suggests installing a mitigation system if your home is at a level of 4 picocuries or more per liter of indoor air. People set it in their homes for several days, then drop it in a postage-paid envelope and send it for processing to a laboratory approved by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The Lincoln County Health Department recommends testing for radon if you have never tested your home before or during real estate transactions. The data is from radon test results that have been monitored by the state.

The answer and effort is simple: test your home.

According to healthfinder.gov about 1 out of every 15 homes in the United States have a level of radon that needs to be reduced and half of Colorado homes have radon levels that put residents at risk for future health problems.

Radon testing isn't expensive and can be done either by a professional or by purchasing your own kit.

Keep in mind that there is no such thing as safe levels of radon; however, if your home tests above level 4 you should definitely take action to mitigate the problem by contracting with a qualified contractor. Remediation will cost you around $1,000.

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