How Do You Test for Radon in Your Home?

woman in interrogative pose

If you’re concerned about the radon levels in your home, radon testing is the best way to accurately diagnose your family’s radon exposure. Even though the gas is invisible, odorless and tasteless, a radon test will still be able to measure its presence in your home. These tests are relatively inexpensive and can be purchased from your local home store.

Because radon levels may fluctuate based on precipitation, barometric pressure and other weather conditions, radon testing is often done two ways: short-term testing and long-term testing. Both tests use radon detectors to measure the radon in the air in picoCuries per liter of air (pCi/L).

Short-term radon detectors will measure your home’s radon levels between two and 90 days depending on the detector you use. Short-term radon detectors are sometimes referred to “alpha track,” “charcoal canisters,” “charcoal liquid scintillation,” “continuous monitors” or “electret ion chambers.” Test kits are also available to test the radon levels in your home’s water – a good idea if your water comes from a well.

Long-term detectors will measure your home’s radon levels for a period of more than 90 days. Either form of radon detector will work, but long-term detectors offer a better picture of your home’s average radon level because they will gather data as the weather fluctuates. “Alpha track” and “electret” detectors are popular options for long-term tests.

If you’re concerned about the radon levels in your home, the Environmental Protection Agency recommends that you start with a short-term test. If this test returns a result of four pCi/L or higher, you should follow up with a second short-term test or a long-term test to verify the result. The higher the results of your initial test, the greater the potential threat and the more important it is to take a second short-term test rather than wait for the results of a long-term test.

If your second test still returns a result higher than four pCi/L, you should take immediate action to rectify the problem. In the next and final post, you’ll learn what you should do if radon is detected in your home.

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