Indoor Air Quality

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Radon

Radon is a colorless, odorless radioactive gas that seeps up from the earth. When inhaled, it gives off radioactive particles that can damage the cells that line the lung.

Long term exposure to radon can lead to lung cancer. In fact, over 21,000 lung cancer deaths in the US each year are from radon, making it a serious health concern for all Minnesotans.

Radon test kits may be purchased at the Carver County Environmental Center at a cost of $8 for short term test kits and $20 for long term test kits.

Where does radon come from?

The soil. Radon is produced from the natural decay of uranium that is found in nearly all soils. Uranium breaks down to radium. As radium disintegrates it turns into radioactive gas...radon. As a gas, radon moves up through the soil and into the air you breathe.

How dangerous is radon?

Radon is the number one cause of lung cancer in non-smokers and the second leading cause of lung cancer (after tobacco) in smokers. Thankfully, this risk should be entirely preventable through awareness and testing.

Where is your greatest exposure to radon?

While radon is present everywhere, and there is no known, safe level, your greatest exposure is where it can concentrate-indoors. And where you spend most time-at home. Your home can have radon whether it be old or new, well-sealed or drafty, and with or without a basement.

How serious a problem is radon in Minnesota?

High radon exist in every state in the US. In Minnesota, 2 in 5 homes has radon levels that pose a significant health risk, and nearly 80% of counties are rated high radon zones. Some factors that further contribute to Minnesota's high radon levels include:

  • Minnesota's geology produces an ongoing supply of radon.
  • Minnesota's climate affects how our homes are built and operate.

How does radon enter a home?

Since radon is produced from soil, it is present nearly everywhere. Because soil is porous radon gas is able to move up through the dirt and rocks and into the air we breathe. If allowed to accumulate, radon becomes a health concern.

Two components that affect how much radon will accumulate in a home are pathways and air pressure. These components will differ from home to home.

  • Pathways are routes the gas uses to enter your home and found anywhere there is an opening between the home and the soil.
  • Air pressure between your home's interior and the exterior soil is what helps to draw radon gas into the home via pathways.

For more information, click to view a printable version of Radon: Keeping Your Home Safe.

Mold

Mold is a type of fungus that is present in our natural environment. Mold spores, which are tiny microscopic ‘seeds’, can be found virtually everywhere, including in homes, and are a part of the general dust found in homes. These spores can grow on building materials and furnishings if conditions are correct. Excess moisture is the critical factor in any indoor mold problem. Mold growth should not be tolerated in our homes.  Eventually, the moisture and mold will damage what it is growing on, which may include both the building materials and personal belongings. The key to preventing mold growth is to prevent moisture problems.

Although Carver County does not conduct testing for mold, this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t test your home if you have concerns.  Please visit the Minnesota Department of Health’s website for additional information.

Asbestos

Asbestos is the name for a group of minerals that occur naturally in the ground. Bundles of fibers make up asbestos minerals. Different types of asbestos were commonly used to manufacture products such as:

Adhesives, Appliance components, Automotive products, Brake pads, Ceilings Products, Acoustical plaster, Ceiling panels, Ceiling tiles, Cement-asbestos board (Transite) products, Cloth wire insulation, Fire protection products, Fire blankets, Fire doors, Spray-on fireproofing, Boiler insulation, Furnace insulation, Pipe elbow insulation, Flooring Products, Heat resistant gloves, Tar or "Black Jack", Vermiculite Attic insulation

In general, the more asbestos a person is exposed to, the greater the risk of developing an asbestos-related disease. Exposure to asbestos occurs through inhalation of airborne microscopic fibers. Airborne asbestos can be present during renovation and demolition of buildings and building products. Residential and nonresidential buildings can contain asbestos materials.

Although Carver County does not conduct testing for asbestos nor regulates asbestos abatement, this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t test your home if you have concerns.  Please visit the Minnesota Department of Health’s website for additional information.

Indoor Air Quality

For more information about indoor air quality such as air quality index, indoor air quality in schools, MN clean indoor air quality act, and vapor intrusion visit the Minnesota Department of Health's website.