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Radon testing is becoming more common with homeowners

More Minnesotans are testing their homes for radon, the radioactive gas that occurs naturally in the ground and can seep into homes. It’s estimated that 21,000 lung cancer deaths a year in the United States are attributed to radon exposure.

The Minnesota Department of Health said earlier this year that testing has doubled in the past two years, thanks to awareness efforts and a new state law that requires sellers of homes to tell potential buyers whether a home has been tested, and, if so, what the levels are.

But what happens after tests of the levels in a basement or living space exceed state standards for safety?

A call should go out to a radon mitigator. The fix for radon is relatively easy, experts say. A job usually starts at $1,500. Costs can be higher depending on the difficulty of getting under a slab and installing piping to release the radon safely through a roof vent. Other work can include sealing areas where radon is encroaching into a home.

Jim Perrault’s Duluth construction firm has seen a recent increase in customers seeking a remedy for radon. Many of those are spurred by real estate transactions, he said.

“Before, it used to be ‘See no evil, hear no evil,’ ” he said. “Now, buyers want to know.”

The past two years have been big, he said, but he expects a slowdown. That’s because “once you’re fixed, you’re fixed,” he said.

Nick Christensen from Advanced Radon Solutions in Duluth said his company will still “run into a lot of naysayers.” He will leave the safety issues around radon to the experts, he said. What he wants to do is eradicate it from homes.

The state estimates that two in five homes in the state have dangerous levels of radon. It is an odorless and colorless radioactive gas that is a byproduct of spent uranium. Occupants of homes breath the gas in, and it can wreak havoc on the lungs...

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