Polk County Public Health urges everyone to test their home for radon, the invisible radioactive gas found at elevated levels in many Minnesota homes. Radon is an odorless, colorless, and tasteless gas that occurs naturally in Minnesota soils. The only way for residents to know if their home has radon is to test. More than 21,000 lung cancer deaths are attributed to radon each year in the United States. Radon is the leading cause of lung cancer among people who never smoked. Fortunately, the risk is largely preventable through testing homes and fixing radon problems.
Minnesota radon key findings include:
- About 40% of Minnesota homes have dangerous levels of radon.
- The average radon level in Minnesota homes is about 4.2 pCi/L compared to 1.3 pCi/L nationwide.
- Of the homes tested in Polk County from 2010-2020, 70% had radon levels at four pCi/L or higher.
- Testing and mitigation are less frequent in communities with lower incomes and more renters.
Tests should be done in the lowest level of the home that is frequently occupied. Test devices are usually placed in the house for 2-5 days. The best time to test is during the heating season, but testing can be done year-round. With more people working and schooling from home, it’s even more important to test homes.
Polk County Public Health offers free radon test kits to be pick-up at our three locations (Crookston, East Grand Forks, and McIntosh). Other agencies and vendors can be found on the Minnesota Department of Health’s Radon Testing website. Hardware stores may stock test kits, and licensed professionals can also conduct testing.
Health professionals recommend testing every 2-5 years and during real-estate transactions. In homes with high radon levels, radon reduction typically involves installing a venting pipe and fan to pull the gas from under the home to the outside. This reduces the amount of radon in the home to low levels. A list of currently licensed radon mitigation professionals can be found on the Find a Radon Mitigation Professional page on the MDH website.
To learn more about radon maps, testing, mitigation, and licensure in Minnesota.
Polk County Public Health and Norman-Mahnomen Public Health offer Healthy Homes Assessments, a health and safety assessment of a home completed by a trained nurse. This service is free for residents of Polk, Norman, or Mahnomen County and includes privately owned or rented homes. For more information, please contact Polk County Public Health at 218-281-3385 or Norman- Mahnomen Public Health at 218-280-3125.