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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.

N.H. Realtors, DES agree to loosen radon warning guidelines

N.H. Realtors, DES agree to loosen radon warning guidelines

By ALLIE MORRIS
Monitor staff
Friday, March 18, 2016
(Published in print: Friday, March 18, 2016)

New Hampshire Realtors and the Department of Environmental Services have struck a deal over how to advise residents about the safety risks of radon in drinking water.

A Senate bill up for debate this year would have effectively limited the state’s ability to communicate any health risks associated with radon in water to residents. Radon is a naturally occurring, radioactive gas formed in granite that can get into the air and water and lead to different forms of cancer.

The groups agreed to revise the department guidelines.

Previously, if tests revealed radon reached a certain level in drinking water – 2,000 picocuries per liter – the state advised homeowners to consult mitigation professionals.

In N.H., Realtors and Regulators at Odds Over "Safe" Radon Levels

A long-running dispute between the real estate industry and the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services is back before the state legislature this year. Realtors have put forward a bill that would force the DES to get in line with federal standards when it comes to what's considered safe levels of radon in drinking water.

New Hampshire has no standard on how much radon in drinking water is safe, but it has set a level at which it recommends homeowners take action: 2,000 picocuries per liter. Meanwhile, the federal Environmental Protection Agency has never set a limit on the safe level of radon in drinking water.

Learn more here.

Radon Action Month in Illinois: What Are the Levels in Your Home?

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. - Radon is the most significant health risk homeowners face, and this month state leaders are encouraging residents to test their homes for the dangerous gas.

According to the Illinois Emergency Management Agency, nearly 1,200 citizens die annually from radon-related lung cancer. Patrick Daniels, radon program manager at the Illinois Emergency Management Agency, says now is the best time of the year to check the radon levels inside a home.

"We want to test homes under what we call 'closed house conditions,'" says Daniels. "Being as cold as it is we tend to keep our windows and doors shut and homes closed up and pretty tight so it just makes it a good time to test."

Test kits range in price from $10 to $30, and can be purchased at a local hardware store or online. Daniels says it's recommended that homeowners who are involved in a real estate transaction hire a licensed professional to test the home for radon.

Building Code Takes Effect Next Month

The new code sets higher standards for insulation, radon gas mitigation and more in 34 communities.

Beginning next month, 34 Maine towns will enforce a new building code.

The code is called MUBEC, or Maine Uniform Building and Energy Code, and it sets higher standards for insulation, radon gas mitigation and much more, for newly built homes and commercial buildings.

The code also means higher costs for the builders who must comply with the code, and the towns that enforce it.

The code was originally passed by the state Legislature in 2008, and reworked in 2011. Towns with populations greater than 4,000 are required to adopt it -- 89 municipalities in all. Fifty-five of those communities have already adopted the code. The 34 holdouts have until July 1.

Clearing the air in Charlotte condos

The air is now clear at two East Boulevard condo buildings after a more than $1 million fix to deal with high levels of radon.

Read the full story

The rising threat of radon

Earthquakes and volcanic eruptions demand our attention, but not all subterranean killers announce themselves so boisterously. One in particular is both sinister and stealthy, creeping into millions of homes across the United States every day and night, killing thousands of people each year.

Radon is the country's No. 2 cause of lung cancer, behind only cigarette smoke, and has a yearly U.S. death toll of about 21,000 people. It's a naturally occurring, radioactive gas that's colorless, odorless, tasteless and chemically inert, so it can easily go unnoticed in someone's house for years. The EPA estimates that about one in 15 American homes has elevated radon levels.

How radon gets inside
Nearly all soils contain low levels of decaying uranium, which emits radon gas, although certain regions have more than others (see U.S. map below). It's normally harmless — groundwater absorbs some of the radon, and the rest floats to the surface and radiates softly into the air.