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Items of Interest from the Minnesota Department of Health Indoor Air Unit

Contributed by Daniel Tranter

The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) Indoor Air Unit has projects ongoing this summer and items of interest regarding radon.

Radon Disparities Study

We are continuing a study, with MDH Environmental Public Health Tracking and MDH Comprehensive Cancer Control, to examine geographic and socioeconomic differences in radon testing and mitigation. We anticipate using the findings to target our resources, improve our outreach, increase testing rates, and provide a roadmap for seeking funding for mitigation systems in areas with high radon and high poverty levels. Expected study completion by end of 2019.

Preliminary findings show:

· Statistically significant clustering of higher mitigation rates, primarily in the western and southern metropolitan areas, and lower mitigation rates, primarily in the Northern metro area.

· Radon testing and radon mitigation are highly related to each other (0.8 correlation or testing explains 80% of mitigation, a strong positive correlation).

· For both, as median home value and median income increases, so does testing and mitigation.

· Radon testing and mitigation decreased while the following variables increased: poverty, percent of renters, percent people of color, percent limited English, and percent with only high school education.

Low Income Radon Mitigation Funding

We continue to partner with A Breath of Hope Lung Foundation to secure funding to help low-income homeowners pay for a radon mitigation system. A business plan was written to help establish an ongoing program and build on the successful pilot project completed last year. The business plan creates a framework to allow us, A Breath of Hope Lung Foundation and other organizations to apply for grants and other sources of funding. We hope that radon mitigators will volunteer some of their time to the project. Ultimately, this program, once established, will create funding to provide radon education in identified communities with high levels of radon and poverty and create a dedicated funding stream to those low-income households who have homes with high radon levels. A Breath of Hope submitted a grant application to a foundation last spring.

School Testing and Outreach

School testing and reporting has increased significantly. MDH has received a record number of radon test results from MN schools over the past year. This can be attributed to media attention, a testing bill introduced at the legislature and increased outreach by MDH and our department of education. Overall, from 2012 through May 2019, MDH has received data from 117 unique districts, which is about 1/3 of public school districts and encompasses 771 buildings. The data show that 13% of buildings have had one or more room with an elevated radon concentration (4 pCi/L). MDH will continue outreach and training, and we expect to see continued media attention. The bill introduced last session remains active at the legislature in the 2020 session.

For more information, contact:

Daniel Tranter

Supervisor | Indoor Air Unit

Minnesota Department of Health

Office: 651-201-4618