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Home » Home and Garden » Indoor Air and Water Quality » Radon

How to Test Your Home for Radon
By ArticleLibrary.com

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Even though you cannot see radon, it doesn't mean that it isn't potentially dangerous to your health. Radon testing takes only a few minutes and can save your life. 

Radon in the air is measured in pCi/L. Many companies offer inexpensive radon testing kits. You can order kits through the mail or on the Internet. Most home centers and hardware stores carry radon test kits, as well.  You can also hire a certified radon tester to do the analysis for you.  It is a good idea to contact your local, county, or state environmental protection office for a list of certified radon professionals in your area. 

Short-term radon testing allows homeowners to quickly determine if they have a radon problem. Short-term tests stay in your home for just a few days to ninety days, depending on the radon test. Different types of detectors available include:

  • alpha track
  • charcoal canisters
  • charcoal liquid scintillation
  • continuous monitors
  • electret ion chamber

Radon levels often fluctuate daily or seasonally. If you need results quickly, however, a short-term radon test may be the answer for you.

Long-term radon tests usually stay in the home in excess of ninety days. Two common types of long-term radon detectors are "electret ion chamber" and "alpha track." A long-term radon test will likely provide you with a more accurate reading because it can tell you more about your home's year-round average radon level.

It is important to carefully read and follow the directions that come with your radon testing kit. For short-term radon testing, make sure to close your outside doors and windows. For accurate results, it is necessary to minimize the amount of outside air that gets into your home. Outside air can dissipate the radon levels in the house which can potentially give you a false-negative result. Try not to operate fans or ventilation equipment which brings air in from the outside.  If you're performing a short-term radon test lasting only 48 to 72 hours, close your windows and outside doors at least 12 hours before starting the radon test. Something to keep in mind, however, is that you shouldn't conduct short-term radon testing when there are very high winds or during unusually severe storms. 

Your radon testing kit should be located in the basement or, if you do not use your basement frequently, the first floor of the home. Put it in a room that is used often such as a living room or bedroom. Don't place the radon testing kit in the kitchen or bathroom. Most kits require placement at least twenty inches above the floor. It should be placed in a location that is unlikely to be disturbed. It should also be placed in an area free of drafts, outside walls, and high heat or humidity. The radon testing kit should be left in place for the duration of time specified in the instructions. When the test is completed, seal the test and return it by mail to the laboratory. Most radon testing labs will send you the results within thirty days.

Average indoor radon levels are estimated to be about 1.3 pCi/L. Most homes today can be reduced to 2 pCi/L or below. No level of radon is safe. Even if your level is below 4 pCi/L, you may want to contact a radon professional about ways to reduce the radon level in your home. Even small reductions can lower your risk of lung cancer.

Radon testing is inexpensive and can save your life. If you are concerned that radon may be a problem in your home, contact a radon professional to discuss your radon testing options.



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