MYTH: There is no such thing as radon.
FACT: Radon is a naturally-occurring element (atomic number 86, atomic weight 222, symbol RN). It is the heaviest of the noble gases. In its natural state, radon is a radioactive gas.
MYTH: Scientists aren’t sure radon is really a problem.
FACT: Although some scientists dispute the precise number of deaths due to radon, all major health organizations agree that radon causes thousands of preventable lung cancer deaths every year. This is especially true among smokers, since the risk to smokers is much greater than to non-smokers. Among these major health organizations are:
- American Lung Association
- American Cancer Society
- American Medical Association
- National Academy of Sciences
- U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
- Office of the U.S. Surgeon General
MYTH: Low level exposure to radon is harmless.
FACT: Scientists agree that no level of exposure to radiation is harmless. Human exposure to radiation should be avoided whenever possible. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommends that all homes with radon levels of 4 picoCuries per liter or greater be fixed to reduce exposure to radon.
MYTH: Radon testing is difficult, time-consuming and expensive.
FACT: An inspector places a test canister inside the home for a minumum of 72 hours and then returns to send the canister to a certified lab for analysis. Results are generally available within 3-5 business days. The testing fee is a small price to pay for your assurance that this hazardous gas does not exist. Long term “Alpha” type tests are also available and provide an accurate long term analysis. Alpha type tests should be conducted for a minimum of 3 months.
MYTH: Radon test kits are not reliable.
FACT: EPA listed radon test kits are very reliable. They can detect radon as low as 1/10 of the EPA’s recommended action level of 4.0 picoCuries/liter.
MYTH: Only houses (single-family dwellings) need to be tested for radon.
FACT: All homes, including apartments below the 3rd floor, and manufactured (mobile) homes with permanent foundations, should be tested for radon.
MYTH: Some or all homes with radon problems can’t be fixed.
FACT: There are solutions to every radon problem in a home. Thousands of homeowners have already fixed radon problems in their homes. Radon levels can be readily lowered for about $500 to $2500, depending on the situation. This is similar to other household repairs such as a new water heater or new roof. There are no homes with radon problems that cannot have their radon levels significantly reduced.
MYTH: Radon only affects certain types of homes.
FACT: House construction can affect radon levels. However, radon can be a problem in homes of all types: old homes, new homes, drafty homes, insulated homes, and homes with or without basements.
MYTH: Radon is only a problem in certain parts of the country.
FACT: High radon levels have been found in every state.
MYTH: Radon is not a problem in Minnesota.
FACT: The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) delinates 3 zones for radon potential. Zone 1 is the highest potential and Zone 3 the lowest. Anoka County has a Zone 2 classification, Medium. Every other County in the Metro area has a Zone 1 classification, High. There are no areas in the State of Minnesota classified as Zone 3, Low. One in 3 Minnesota homes has radon levels which exceed the EPA guideline for radon exposure.
Where Can I Get More Information About Radon?
For more information about radon or other indoor air pollutants, contact the following:
- Ramsey County Radon Hotline
651.773-4483 (24-hour recorded message)
- Saint Paul – Ramsey County Department of Public Health
Environmental Health Section – 651.773.4466
- Minnesota Department of Health
Division of Environmental Health – 612.215.0909
- American Lung Association of Minnesota
- U.S. Department of the Interior / U.S. Geological Survey
The Geology of Radon www.sedwww.cr.usgs.gov:8080/radon/georadon.html
- Radon Resistant New Construction www.epa.gov/iaq/radon/construc.html