Why worry about radon? In our two-part blog series on radon exposure in the home, we’re covering this sneaky gas—what it is, and why it matters. Last time we covered the basics on radon’s chemical makeup and health risks. This time, we’ll turn our attention to the details of radon testing.
Testing for Radon
According to the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) Citizen’s Guide to Radon, testing is the only way to know if your family is at risk. Even if the home was built to be radon resistant, and many new homes are, “every new home should be tested after occupancy.”
Testing for radon is simple and affordable. Low-cost, “Do-It-Yourself” radon kits are available on the public market. You can also hire a qualified tester—which is recommended for safety purposes and to minimize user error if you are in the process of buy and/or selling a home. You can do both short-term and long-term radon testing. Contact a reputable testing company, such as AccuStar Labs, for more information.
Radon is measured in picocuries per liter of air, abbreviated pCi/L. The test steps recommended by the EPA are:
- Step 1: Take a short-term test. Results of 4 pCi/L or higher indicate a risk of adverse health effects from radon exposure. If your short-term test returns a result of 4 pCi/L or more, proceed to Step 2.
- Step 2: Follow up. A long-term test will help you understand your year-round average radon level; if you must have quick results, at least use a second short-term test for confirmation. If your long-term test is 8 or higher (double the 4 pCi/L action level), repeat a short-term test for confirmation and then immediately move on to Step 3.
- Step 3: Take action to fix your radon exposure problem before it can affect your family’s health. If your airborne radon levels are high enough to warrant taking action, you should have your water tested as well. According to the EPA's Basic Information About Radon in Drinking Water, radon can be a concern even in city water if it originally comes from an underground source like an aquifer, so find out your municipality's water source if you're concerned. All well water should be tested.
Mitigating Dangerous Radon Levels
We recommend that you hire a professional to help find the sources of the issue and effectively mitigate the problem. A contractor can help you decide between options that prevent radon from entering your home and options that reduce radon once it’s in the air. The right contractor will test to find air flow leaks and help you choose an option that suits your budget and your particular problem. The EPA Consumer’s Guide to Radon Reduction will give you more detailed information on the complexities of handling radon reduction projects.