Updated: 01/08/2013 10:09 PM KSTP.com By: Katherine Johnson
Each year, more than 20,000 people die from over exposure to radon. It's the leading cause of lung cancer among non-smokers in the nation and almost half the houses in the Twin Cities area have it.
Brian Benasutti owns Minnesota Radon Specialists and installs mitigation systems built to trap the cancer-causing carcinogen while it's still in the ground and push it up and out of the house.
"Radon is a radioactive gas and it causes lung cancer," he said. "It is a dangerous gas and its not something you want to be exposed to on any high level."
The Health Department says more than 40% of all Twin Cities homes have dangerously high levels of radon seeping into basements through cracks in the floor, gaps surrounding pipes and around basement drains.
"I talked to my neighbors on both sides and guess what? I've got radon," said Eagan homeowner, Ken Kradle.
Kradle hadn't tested his home for radon since 1995. Over time, radon levels in his basement have risen dramatically and, just yesterday, he had his own mitigation system installed.
"When you get that first initial reaction it's like, ugh. I thought I had a healthy home. I didn't have a healthy home. Now I have a healthy home."
"It's a colorless gas, it's odorless, it doesn't make your eyes water - so the only way to know if you have radon is to test for radon using some sort of radon test kit or device," said Benasutti.
There's no such thing as a "safe level" of radon and despite even the best efforts, there's no way to get away from it completely. But if your test results come back over a rating of four picocuries per liter, you'll want to consider taking the next step.
"The worst thing you can do is ignore it," said Kradle.
Although they usually cost between $10 and $20, you can get a radon detection kit at a discounted price from your local Public Health Department.
Find information about testing kits here.