Don Davis, Forum News Service, Published December 31 2013
New Minnesota laws include radon information requirementST. PAUL – A late central Minnesota woman’s wish for safer homes comes true when 2014 begins.
When Janet Thompson learned she had terminal lung cancer, her health battle joined with a fight to make sure Minnesotans knew about the danger of radon. Thompson, who lived in Glenwood, south of Alexandria, tried to talk people into checking their homes for radon, a colorless, odorless gas that can cause cancer.
Her sister, Lori Thompson-Garry of Eagan, took up the cause and told legislators early in 2013 about the dangers of radon. They passed a law, signed by Gov. Mark Dayton, to require Minnesota homebuyers to receive information about radon dangers.
Other laws also begin Jan. 1, including one that forbids asking many job applicants if they have a criminal history and a provision adding 40,000 people to the state’s Medical Assistance rolls.
The radon discussion began as a measure by Rep. Paul Anderson, R-Starbuck, to require radon tests. It eventually was watered down to require that new homeowners receive information. The new law also requires a homeowner to reveal if he knows radon is present in a home he is selling.
Rep. Steve Drazkowski, R-Mazeppa, opposed the measure, saying he feared government would make more home-selling requirements. He worried lawmakers next might require warnings about bats because they may carry rabies.
At least a third of Minnesota homes have radon levels that put residents at risk, said Rep. Carolyn Laine, D-Columbia Heights.
Thompson-Garry said it is important for people to learn about radon.
“Lung cancer is very silent,” Thompson-Garry said during a March legislative hearing. “She had no symptoms.”
Homes in southern and western Minnesota appear to have the greatest chance of having radon, the state Health Department reported.
Homeowners may buy radon test kits for less than $20, while a certified tester can be hired for $150, Anderson said.
Other new laws include: