Radon is a radioactive gas that is produced by the decay of the element radium which emanates from rocks and soils and tends to concentrate in enclosed spaces like our homes. Soil gas infiltration is recognized as the most important source of residential radon. Other sources, including building materials and water extracted from wells, are of less importance in most circumstances.
- Radon is the number one cause of lung cancer in the world among non-smokers*
- Radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the world
- Radon is responsible for about 21,000 lung cancer deaths every year
How to Test for Radon in Your Home
How long does radon testing take?
Testing durations of less than 48 hours are never acceptable for purposes of assessing the need for mitigation. We try to test for periods longer than 48 hours whenever possible to get the most accurate results.
Is Active or Passive Testing right for you?
Active Testing: Our Continuous Radon Monitors (often referred to as electronic radon tests) record the number of alpha particles in the air hourly and provide instant, easy-to-understand results. As radon atoms break down, alpha particles are emitted and create bursts of ions, which are digitally recorded as electrical pulses. Our monitors also have the ability to tell us if the test has been tampered with during the testing period!
Active Radon Testing
Passive testing: Passive devices generally utilize activated charcoal and do not require power to function. The passive nature of the activated charcoal allows continual adsorption of radon. During the measurement period (typically two to four days), the adsorbed radon undergoes further decay. At the laboratory, the activated charcoal canisters are analyzed for radon decay products to determine the average radon level during the test period. Charcoal detectors may be subject to effects from drafts and high humidity.
Passive Radon Testing
Regardless of which testing you feel is better, we certainly recommend hiring a trained radon testing professional, as the proper training ensures the most accurate test. Not only will we help you interpret the test results, we can help educate you about any necessary mitigation techniques and put you in touch with trained professionals that we know and trust to properly install a radon mitigation system.
A little more background info about radon to geek-out on
The greatest exposures to alpha radiation for average citizens comes from the inhalation of radon and its decay products (RDP’s), several of which also emit potent alpha radiation. Even though the biological effects of radon are caused by RDPs, radon gas is usually measured, rather than RDPs. This is because there are fewer variables in radon measurements because gas concentration is not affected by circulation or plate-out, it is easier to make time-weighted measurements of radon gas, and radon gas measurements are a good indicator of RDPs.
Frequently Asked Questions
If radon is a health hazard, what are the symptoms?
Radon is a sneaky gas. Just as you can’t see it, smell it or taste it, it also gives you no warning that it is harming your health. There’s no rash or headache or fever. Radon causes lung cancer, which often presents no symptoms until it is advanced. The only way to be safe from radon-related lung cancer is to test for radon and have the radon mitigated if the level is above 4.0 pCi/L.
What are factors that can affect radon levels?
Several factors can influence your radon test results. Keep in mind, however, that although radon gas levels might vary somewhat from day-to-day, it is unusual for the difference to be significant. If you doubt your test results, you might choose to retest yourself or hire a certified professional. Here are some suggestions to help ensure an accurate reading:
- Time of year – Radon levels usually are highest during the heating season. If you are performing a long-term test, choose a time period that will span heating and non-heating seasons.
- Test location – The EPA recommends testing for radon in the lowest livable level of your home, where radon levels usually are highest in the home.
- Weather patterns – Do not conduct a short-term test during conditions that can influence the test results, such as stormy weather or very high winds.
- Test interference – Do not move the test device or open doors and windows during the test, as these actions can result in understated radon levels.
- Follow directions – Leave the test in place for the required time period, fill out all required information and mail the device to the laboratory immediately after completing the test.
The builder says my new home is radon resistant, so I can’t have radon, right?
Even if you have purchased a home with Radon Resistant New Construction (RRNC), unless you, the builder or a home inspector tested your new home for radon, that’s not necessarily so. Although the name Radon Resistant New Construction implies that the home resists radon, RRNC simply is the installation of radon system pipes without a radon mitigation fan. Without the fan, the home is “radon system ready,” but not resistant to radon entry.
Can I fix the radon myself?
Remember, radon is a radioactive gas. Fixing your home is best left to a professional!
How often do I need to test for radon?
It is recommended by the EPA to test radon levels in your home:
- If your living situation/pattern changes. i.e. you now occupy a lower level of your home, such as the basement.
- If you are buying a home.
- If you are selling a home.
- After disasters. Your home’s structure can shift over time, allowing radon to find new ways in. This is especially true after earthquakes, major remodeling, or a house fire.
- Every 2-3 years as preventative maintenance.
Still want to know more about radon?
Visit the EPA’s website for more information. A Citizen’s Guide to Radon: https://www.epa.gov/radon
*according to EPA estimates
**Courtesy of our friends at RadonAway