Dan Tranter Supervisor of the Minnesota Department of Health Indoor Air Unit specializes in radon. Not only Minnesota's authority but one of the most respected voices in the nation concerning the naturally occuring radioactive gas found in soil.  An estimated 21,000 people in this country lose their lives every year from lung cancer caused by radon.

Tranter was on KDHL Friday and told listeners he is concerned because so many are working from home during the pandemic.  Many people are spending more time in their basements than ever before.

Tranter says, "We're concerned about greater overall exposure maybe occurring during this pandemic.  Because like you said people are spending more time in their homes.  Whether they are working from home or schooling from home. The levels in our homes are usually, not always, but tend to be higher than the levels in our offices and school buildings. For those of us that are working from home, schooling from home, the overall sort of cumulative exposure to radon will be greater."

Tranter says radon is found all over the world.  It has no smell, no taste or color.

"Unfortunately in Minnesota we have some very high radon levels.  Some of the highest radon levels in the country.  In the state overall we see about 2 in 5 homes, about 40 percent of homes above the action level from the EPA and in Rice County it's even higher.  It's about 60 percent." Tranter commented, " Southern Minnesota tends to be even higher than the rest of the state.  That's why  we are encourging people to test their homes and fix their homes if they need to."

I asked Tranter if soil type might have a correlation and apparently it is not the case, "If you look at a map of Minnesota and you look at where the prarie land is versus northern evergreen forest.  There's higher levels in the parts of the state that are prarie land meaning the farming region.  That's southern, southwest, western and northwest Minnesota.  In those areas we tend to see anywhere from 50 to 75 percent of homes have tested high.  In north central and northeast Minnesota geology is different due to the glacial activity that occurred thousands of years ago.  In those areas there still are high levels.  Still about 20 to 30 percent of homes are high."

For most people the greatest exposure to radon occurs in the home. Radon enters homes through cracks in floors or at floor-wall junctions, snall pores in hollow block walls, sumps or drains.  Radon levels are usually higher in basements, cellars or living spaces in contact with soil.

The Supervisor of the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) Indoor Air Unit informed us there is currently no requirement to test schools, nursing homes, senior assisted living facilities or apartments for radon in Minnesota.

Listen to the full interview with Minnesota Radon expert Dan Tranter in the AM Minnesota podcast below:

NEXT UP: 10 Famous People from Minnesota