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radon mitigation systems

Q&A: “Should I test for radon if the home already has a radon mitigation system?”

When a home already has an active radon mitigation system, is it even worth testing for radon? That's a great question. To answer that, allow me to share a quick story.

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All About Radon

Several colorless, odorless gases can injure your health. For example, carbon monoxide can kill you in minutes. Radon takes longer — usually decades — to kill you, and (fortunately) death is less certain.

People who have lived for many years in a house with elevated levels of radon gas have a higher than average chance of getting lung cancer. Because of this risk, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) advises homeowners to test the air in their homes for the presence of radon. If testing reveals radon at levels above 4 picocuries per liter, you should probably arrange for a contractor to install a radon mitigation system in your house.

How does radon get into a house?

Health Beat: Radon Study Shows New Homes Have Radon

A new state building code that took effect a few years ago was supposed to reduce the risk of radon exposure in Minnesota, where roughly 40 percent of homes tested come back at unsafe levels.

Still, health officials were concerned that the code left some homeowners exposed to potentially deadly levels of the cancer-causing gas.

It turns out that the mitigation systems required in new homes by the 2009 code change aren’t always effective at reducing radon levels below the federal health safety standard.

Roughly one in five new homes with the passive radon mitigation systems had radon levels above 4.0 picocuries per liter, according to preliminary results of a state Health Department study launched last fall. That’s above the level that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency considers safe.

“That’s still a quarter of our population being highly exposed to something that gives lung cancer,’’ said Joshua Miller, manager of the department’s radon program.