Radon Testing – Learn How to Test Your Home and What to Do About Elevated Levels
Radon is a dangerous gas that can increase your risk for lung cancer. Learn how to test your home and what to do about elevated levels. We developed a mobile app that shared existing content and allowed users to request a free radon testing kit. We found that radon knowledge, perceived severity, and response efficacy predicted whether people ordered the kit.
Radon is an invisible, odorless, tasteless gas that can only be detected with a test device. A homeowner can purchase a do-it-yourself kit from a hardware store or hire Radon Testing Colorado Springs to perform testing. The results are then sent to a laboratory for analysis.
Short-term testing provides a quick radon value by measuring the average radon concentration in the home for 2-90 days. When a short-term radon test result is above the EPA Action Level of 4 pCi/L, homeowners should follow up with a long-term radon test to gain a better understanding of their home’s average year-round radon levels.
If the long-term radon test shows that a home is below the EPA Action Level of 4 pCi/L, there may be no immediate need for further radon mitigation. However, the home should be retested after any air sealing work or heating/air conditioning system changes are completed.
The accuracy of a short-term radon test depends on the type of test, the location of the test in the home, and the amount of time the test is run. The EPA sets the individual relative error and precision of short-term test kits at less than 25% and 10%, respectively, for the action level of 4 pCi/L. However, many current do-it-yourself test devices need to meet these standards.
Sometimes, a do-it-yourself radon test kit will produce a false reading by measuring only the radioactive daughter products rather than the radon itself. This happens because the shorter biological half-lives of radon progeny, 210Pb, and its daughters, 218Po through 214Po, preclude them from detection by the short-term sampling methods used in do-it-yourself kits.
When using a do-it-yourself radon testing kit, the instructions should be followed closely. Place the radon measurement device in the lowest occupied level of the house, elevated at least three feet off the ground and away from windows and doors. Close all windows and doors before starting the test and leave it in place for the time specified on the data sheet or kit. Once the test is complete, record the start time and date on the datasheet or the radon testing kit and send it to the lab for analysis.
Radon is a dangerous radioactive gas from the breakdown of uranium and thorium in soil. It can get into your home through cracks in the foundation and walls in the lowest occupied level of your house, usually the basement. It’s best to test this area of your home because it will most likely be affected by radon.
Short-term radon tests are available at many hardware and home centers and online retailers. These kits measure radon levels for two to seven days, and you mail them to a lab for results. They are not recommended as your first radon testing method, but they can be used to verify the result of a long-term test and help you decide on further action steps.
Long-term radon testing measures average annual radon levels in your home, giving you more information on the actual risk you face. These tests can take 90 days to a year and are generally based on alpha particle tracking. They are more accurate than short-term tests, which can vary greatly from day to day and season to season based on weather conditions and ventilation habits.
Whether you’re doing a short-term or long-term test, the placement of the test is crucial. Make sure it is placed in the lowest occupied level of your home, and close any doors or windows while the test is underway. This will ensure that the radon concentration in your home is as close to constant as possible.
Once you’ve completed the test, follow the instructions on the kit packaging to send it to a laboratory for analysis. The test results will let you know the radon concentration in your home and if it is at or above the EPA’s four pCi/L action level.
Once the test results are in, you can take a few months to fix your home if it is at or above the radon action level. Be sure to retest your home once it’s set to ensure the radon levels have reduced. This is the only way to be sure your home is safe from radon and that the radon reduction system works effectively.
In this method, a radon sampler is placed in a home and monitored for some time – usually from 90 days to one year. These tests are a more accurate reflection of your average annual exposure to radon gases than the short-term test because they take into account weather conditions and ventilation habits. However, this type of radon testing is generally only conducted as a follow-up to a short-term test.
During this testing, all windows should remain closed except for those used for normal entry and exit. In addition, fans that bring air in from outside should not be operating (except those part of a permanent radon mitigation system). The EPA recommends that these “closed house” conditions be maintained for at least 12 hours before the radon test begins and throughout the entire test period.
The sampler will also need to be kept in a location that is not easily disturbed for the test duration. This is often a garage or basement room but can be any area of the home not used for daily living activities. The test device should be kept at least 20 inches above the ground and should not be obstructed or moved in any way during the test.
A typical short-term test is a charcoal-based or electret ion detector that you can purchase at most home centers and hardware stores. You will need to follow the instructions on the datasheet for setting up and running the test. You must then mail the test kit back to the laboratory for analysis.
It is recommended that you discuss the results of a radon test with the person who conducted it. If a radon problem is found, the professional will provide information on reducing the radon level in your home. They can suggest various options, including installing an effective mitigation system. In most cases, a radon mitigation contractor will be able to begin work within about a week of the initial test results being received.
Radon is a cancer-causing gas that builds up in homes, buildings, and schools to dangerous levels. It is invisible, odorless and tasteless. Radon can be reduced to safer levels with a variety of methods, including the use of professional radon testing.
Radon can get into a house through pores in the concrete and through cracks in walls or floors. It can also enter through openings in the foundation or wells and vents. Any house, new or old, can have elevated radon levels. The EPA estimates that over long periods, exposure to radon in homes can lead to lung cancer.
The EPA recommends that home buyers add professional radon testing to their list of inspections before buying a home. This will allow homeowners to address radon mitigation during the home inspection, saving time and money in the long run. Home sellers may also choose to test their homes before putting them on the market to take steps to mitigate radon if necessary.
There is little disagreement among scientists that breathing hundreds of pCi/L of radon for years increases the risk of lung cancer significantly. However, the scientific community is divided over the level of radon at which the risk begins to grow rapidly. Many radon professionals are comfortable using the EPA guideline of 4 pCi/L as a reference point.
While there are several different analytical methods for measuring radon and its progeny, most radon tests measure the radiation produced by alpha particles that strike a target object. These targets are often plastic film badges that have been chemically treated to etch the tracks of the emitted alpha particles or electret ion detectors. The number of emitted alpha particles that strike the target is then counted to determine the radon concentration.
When conducting a short-term test, the sampler should be placed in the lowest livable area of the home that is used 8-10 hours per week. During the testing period, it is important to keep windows and doors closed and avoid heating or cooling the home, operating wood stoves, fireplaces, electric fans, or painting.