January is Radon Action Month, and Cass County and Crow Wing County have radon testing kits available.

The Minnesota Department of Health recommends all homes in Minnesota be tested for radon.

“It’s the only way to know if a home has an elevated level of radon, which can cause lung cancer,” officials said in a news release.

Radon is an odorless, colorless, tasteless gas that occurs naturally in Minnesota soils and can enter homes primarily through cracks and openings in basement or foundation floors and walls. The only way for residents to know if their home has radon is to test. A home should be tested at least every five years. It is important to perform a radon test after buying a new heating system or adding central air conditioning.

To obtain a test kit in Cass County, contact Jeri Seegmiller at 218-547-1340 or go to Cass County Public Health, 400 Michigan Ave. W., Walker. Kits also will be available at the Health, Human and Veterans Services office in Backus and at the family centers in Walker, Pine River, Remer and Pillager.

To obtain a free test kit in Crow Wing County, go to the Crow Wing County Land Services Department customer service counter located at 322 Laurel St., Suite 15, Brainerd, between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. There is a limit of one radon kit per household. Testing is easy and only takes three to seven days.

To help residents get a more accurate picture of radon, the Minnesota Department of Health launched a radon data portal. The portal includes interactive maps that describe radon levels and disparities in testing and mitigation rates. The portal can be found on the MDH web site at https://data.web.health.state.mn.us/web/mndata/radon.

For more information on radon testing and mitigation, visit health.state.mn.us/radon or call the Minnesota Department of Health Indoor Air Unit at 651-201-4601. Anyone interested in mitigating his or her home for radon should consult the Minnesota Department of Health’s list of certified radon mitigation contractors at health.state.mn.us/divs/eh/indoorair/radon/mitigation.html.

The health department estimates two in five existing Minnesota homes have radon levels posing a large health risk over many years of exposure. Radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States and more than 21,000 deaths are attributed to radon each year.

Radon exposure, however, is largely preventable. Homeowners should test their homes to see if they have elevated radon levels. Tests should be done in the lowest level of the home that is frequently occupied.

If a home has dangerous levels, a homeowner can have a system installed to reduce radon from their indoor air. In homes with levels over 4 pCi/L, homeowners should consider verification testing and possible mitigation. The final step is to encourage friends, family and coworkers to test their own homes for radon.

Minnesota law requires disclosure and information be provided to buyers about radon during Minnesota home sales. The law requires sellers to inform buyers whether their home has been tested for radon and if so, what the levels are and whether the home has been mitigated for radon. In addition, sellers must provide a warning statement and a two-page publication to the buyer. Radon tests can be incorporated into a home inspection. The law does not require radon testing or mitigation.

Another law requires all new homes built since 2009 be built with passive radon resistant features. About one in five of these newer homes have radon above the recommended action level; this is an improvement over the levels found in the overall Minnesota housing stock where about two in five homes have elevated levels.

MDH encourages builders to activate the passive radon resistant features through the addition of a radon fan. In addition, new home buyers can request the fan be added during construction. In these new homes with radon fans, MDH has found very low radon concentrations.