By Bill Hudson

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — January is Radon Awareness Month, and authorities are hoping to raise awareness about the radioactive gas that can cause lung cancer.

The EPA says radon-caused lung cancers will claim some 21,000 American lives this year. Radon gas invades most homes through cracks and openings in the concrete foundation and block walls.

With Minnesota homes tightly buttoned up for winter, radon more easily accumulates at high levels in the indoor air.

Crews who work with homes dealing with radon say that Minnesota is a hot spot for the gas.

An estimated 40 percent of all Minnesota homes — about two in every five — will exceed recommended radon levels. Any reading greater than 4 picocuries per liter (pCi/L) is considered unsafe and in need of mitigation.

The highest level ever seen by one crew WCCO contacted was a home in Farmington that registered 158 pCi/L.

“Here in Minnesota, we have high levels of radon — some of the highest in the country, due to our geology,” Dan Tranter said.

Tranter is an indoor air supervisor for the Minnesota Department of Health. He says no part of the state is immune from radon’s deadly reach.

“Every county, every zip code has high radon potential in Minnesota. We see high levels throughout the state,” Tranter said.

That’s why homeowners statewide are being urged to perform a simple and relatively inexpensive test. At radon levels higher than 4 pCi/L, homeowners will be urged to install a ventilation system.

The average mitigation will cost the typical Minnesota homeowner under $2,000. Think of it as peace of mind — for a problem most never knew they had.

For more information on radon testing and mitigation, visit the Department of Health’s website.

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