If Radon is in your home, especially at high levels, it could be harming you and your family. Radon is a colorless, odorless radioactive gas, that seeps up from the earth into our homes. When inhaled, Radon gives off radioactive particles that damage the lungs and can cause lung cancer over time and at high enough levels.
All homeowners should check the radon amounts in their homes. This is especially true in Minnesota, where we have our homes closed up (with the heat or air on) for much of the year. You can test for radon by purchasing an inexpensive kit from a hardware store or the State of Minnesota's Dept of Health website or by hiring an inspector with a radon detection device. To start out, I'd recommend doing the inexpensive kit first. They cost around $8-$10, versus an inspector who will cost around $175. There is an acceptable amount of radon, per the government. However, radon amounts can change over time, so I'd recommend continued testing at least once a year, even if your home tests low.
The government does advise that any amount of radon is harmful and increases your risk of lung cancer. However, they do have a point at which the danger is much higher and they recommend radon mitigation for any home that tests at or above that limit. Radon mitigation systems can cost around $1200-$2000, depending on the home and it's design.
In the state of Minnesota, sellers DO NOT have to TEST for radon, but if they have, they are REQUIRED to DISCLOSE those test results to buyers. Buyers do typically have the option to do a radon test as part of their standard home inspection. Although it costs the buyers a little more to include the radon test, it's very smart to have it done at this time. Then if the home tests high for radon, the buyers can cancel the contract or more likely negotiate with the sellers to put in a radon mitigation system or pay for the cost of it. Or, if the home tests low for radon, the buyers can feel safe and secure in their new home.
For a fantastic amount of information including inspectors and contractors for radon mitigation, please go to the State of Minnesota's Department of Health's website: