The effectiveness of mitigation for reducing radon risk in single-family Minnesota homes

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Health and Medical Physics | Physics


Increased lung cancer incidence has been linked with long-term exposure to elevated residential radon. Experimental studies have shown that soil ventilation can be effective in reducing radon concentrations in single-family homes. Most radon mitigation systems in the U.S. are installed by private contractors. The long-term effectiveness of these systems is not well known, since few state radon programs regulate or independently confirm post-mitigation radon concentrations. The effectiveness of soil ventilation systems in Minnesota was measured for 140 randomly selected clients of six professional mitigators. Homeowners reported pre-mitigation radon screening concentrations that averaged 380 Bq m-3 (10.3 pCi L-1). Long term post-mitigation radon measurements on the two lowest floors show that, even years after mitigation, 97% of these homes have concentrations below the 150 Bq m-3 U.S. Environmental Protection Agency action level. The average post-mitigation radon in the houses was 30 Bq m-3, an average observed reduction of >90%. If that reduction was maintained over the lifetime of the 1.2 million Minnesotans who currently reside in single-family homes with living space radon above the EPA action level, approximately 50,000 lives could be extended for nearly two decades by preventing radon-related lung cancers.