Updated: 7:25 p.m. | Posted: 4:41 p.m.
Minnesota's plan to hold some radon inspectors and their companies to new licensing requirements and subject them to fees faces a legal challenge.
A remediation company and the Minnesota Association of Radon Professionals are suing the state Department of Health. The lawsuit filed last week in Ramsey County seeks to halt standards that are due to become effective in January.
Attorney Curt Smith, who represents the association and Standard Water Control Systems Inc., said Thursday the law is flawed. He said it would be unevenly applied because radon work in new homes is exempt while inspections and mitigation in existing homes can be performed only by licensed contractors who pay fees.
"It just makes no sense," Smith said. "If they're qualified to do it on a new home, they should be qualified to do it on an existing home."
Under rules drafted by the health department in accordance with the law, the annual fees range from $150 for measurement professionals to $250 for those who do mitigation work to as much as $500 for the companies that do analysis of the test kit results. Each radon mitigation system installed in an existing home would be subject to a $75 fee.
Smith said his clients have broader concerns about the need for such a law because companies in the field already adhere to industry certifications.
He said no one is contesting the need for homeowners to have their dwellings checked for radon.
Radon is an odorless gas that can diminish air quality and cause cancer.
Lawmakers passed the Minnesota Radon Licensing Act in 2015 but it has twice been delayed. It is on course to take hold on Jan. 1. The lawsuit aims to put that off through a temporary injunction while the case plays out.
In a statement, Minnesota Department of Health spokesperson Scott Smith said licensing is needed because the testing and "accurately evaluating radon hazards requires highly-skilled measurement professionals. It also takes highly-skilled mitigation professionals to fix radon problems without damaging property or jeopardizing residents."
Smith added that if the state receives at least 25 requests for a hearing by 4:30 p.m. Friday, the agency will hold a public hearing on July 17.