The Free Press, Mankato, MN

December 30, 2013

Minnesota's new radon law a good step

Why it matters: New Minnesota radon law a good safeguard, particularly for those in southern Minnesota.


The Mankato Free Press

---- — Beginning Wednesday, anyone selling or buying a home in Minnesota will have a little more paperwork to add to the pile already required.

But the little extra work is worth the benefit to many people’s health — perhaps even their lives.

The Minnesota Radon Awareness Act expands on an earlier law that required new homes to have a passive radon mitigation system built into them.

The new law requires anyone selling a home to provide information on whether the structure was ever tested for radon and if so, what the results were. Any tests have to be documented.

It’s a reasonable law to help people guard against the odorless, colorless, tasteless radon that naturally seeps up through the ground and can find its way into homes. Long-term exposure to radon can cause cancer. It is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States and more than 21,000 deaths are attributed to radon each year.

Minnesota has a higher radon problem than most states, with an estimated 1 in 3 existing homes having radon levels higher than recommended. And the greater Mankato area is particularly in a radon hot-spot. That’s due to the geologic makeup of the area: those river bluffs are beautiful but fractures in the stone bluffs allows radon to seep up more easily.

The new law isn’t overly burdensome. It does not require a homeowner to do a radon test before selling a home. But buyers in Minnesota can negotiate a radon test before purchase. It’s a wise thing for any potential home buyer to do, considering the tests are inexpensive. If radon is detected in high levels, buyers can also negotiate having a mitigation system put in before the purchase or get a lower price on the home and have the mitigation done when they move in.

Some counties — including the environmental health office in Brown and Nicollet counties — are taking the opportunity of the new law to offer free radon testing kits on a first-come, first-served basis. But easy-to-use test kits can be bought at most home improvement and hardware stores.

If you do have high radon levels, the good news is that protecting yourself is not overly expensive. In Minnesota, radon mitigation can cost as little as a few hundred dollars, but usually averages just over $1,000. There are many contractors certified in installing radon mitigation systems.

Whether you’re planning on selling your home or not, the new year is a good time to get your house tested for radon. It’s a simple task that could have huge benefits.