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Health briefs: Radon test kits available; law provides 'Safe Place' for newborns

Do-it-yourself test kits can detect elevated levels of radon in the home. This kit from Air Check Inc. is offered to Minnesota residents at a discount through an agreement with the Minnesota Department of Health. (Photo provided by Air Check Inc.)

About half of the homes in Goodhue County have high levels of radon, an odorless radioactive gas that contributes to more than 21,000 lung cancer deaths in the United States each year, according to Goodhue County Health and Human Services.

For Radon Awareness Month in January, experts recommend testing for radon and taking mitigation steps. Test kits are available for $10 during business hours at the Citizens Building, 426 West Ave., and the Land-Use Management office in the Goodhue County Government Center. The test kit is placed in the lowest occupied area of the home for up to a week and mailed back in a postage-paid package for lab testing. For more information, contact Public Health Nurse Vicki Iocco at 651-385-6114.

Newborns law offers options for parents in crisis

Minnesota's Safe Place for Newborns law allows mothers to safely and anonymously give up newborns to safe places such as hospitals and urgent care facilities, or by calling 911. Minnesota Human Services Commissioner Emily Piper called for increased awareness of this option following the case of an infant left alone in a St. Paul church earlier this month.

"This law is not only for infants, but also for mothers," Piper said in a news release. "Mothers who may be very scared and unprepared to care for their newborns have safe alternatives for giving them up. This is doubly important after a baby was found yesterday at the Cathedral of St. Paul."

The law allows mothers, or others acting with mothers' permission, to safely and anonymously surrender unharmed infants born within the past seven days to a designated safe place. A safe place includes a hospital, an urgent care facility during its hours of operation, or an ambulance that is dispatched in response to a 911 call.

Twenty-two newborns were saved from 2013 through late December 2016 under the Safe Place for Newborns law, which was amended in 2012 after tragedies involving abandoned infants. That includes three infants in 2013, six in 2014, 10 in 2015 and three from the beginning of 2016 through Dec. 20.

More information is available on the department's fact sheet or the Safe Place for Newborns website at