Safety & Security
For Your Home

Short-Term Testing
Long-Term Testing

Radon, which is found in nearly every part of the world, is a naturally occurring radioactive gas that is invisible, odorless, tasteless, and is a probable cause of cancer. As Uranium-238 and Radium-222, which is naturally contained in soil, rocks, and water breaks down; it releases Radon into the air. After it becomes airborne, it decays and attaches to tiny dust particles that float in the atmosphere. When these radioactive particles are inhaled, they adhere to the lung’s lining and have been known to cause cancer. Next to cigarette smoking, Radon exposure is the second largest cause of lung cancer. The cancer causing effects that Radon has on lungs will increase the longer an individual is exposed to it. Radon can be three times more radioactive than any other man-made radiation from nuclear power plants, nuclear and medical waste, medical x-rays or any other source.

As Radon gas escapes from the ground it enters into homes through any holes and cracks in solid floors or walls, sump pump pit or gaps around service pipes and water supply lines. The EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) estimates that possibly one out of every fifteen U.S. homes may have elevated levels of Radon that could pose a danger. Factors that can affect the Radon levels in a home or building are:
  • The part of the U.S. a person resides in; and the composition of soil and rock in that area.
  • The kind of soil or rock is directly below a home.
  • The condition of the home in regard to sump pump pit or cracks and gaps in the foundation.
  • Whether or not proper Air Sealing Techniques were incorporated as Ways to Save Money and Energy.
  • The Ventilation system in the home or building.
  • Whether or not there are smokers in the home because smokers and other family members are doubly at risk for lung cancer if Radon is also present in the home or building.
  • The amount of time spent in the home and where it is spent – the lower the in the ground, the higher the Radon level.
  • The time (season) of the year.

One of the only ways to accurately determine if a house contains elevated levels of Radon is to use Radon test kits. The EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) recommends that homeowners should conduct short-term and long-term testing to determine if Radon is present; and if the levels of it can cause a health hazard.

Short-Term Testing
To quickly determine the Radon levels in a home, use an EPA recommended Radon kit, with an activated charcoal packet, that can be purchased in most hardware and home improvement stores.
  • Follow the manufacturer’s instructions to achieve an accurate reading.
  • Place it in the lowest level of the home for 48 hours.
  • Mail the packet back to the manufacturer for laboratory analysis.
  • Results will be returned with the radon levels from the home along with instructions and recommendations for dealing with Radon.
  • If the Radon level is within an acceptable range, additional testing will not be necessary.
  • If the Radon level is above an acceptable range, long-term testing should be performed to assure the correct reading.
  • If the long-term testing verifies high levels of Radon, contact a Radon reduction contractor who take steps to correct the problem.

Radon levels may vary, depending on the time of year, so the short term testing may not provide an accurate reading of the home’s year-round Radon level. If the short term testing reveals a high level of Radon in the home, a more complete long term testing will be required.

Long-Term Testing
This test is usually more accurate than a short-term one because it is taken over a 90-day period; and will usually give a reading that is reflective of a year-round average of Radon levels in the home/building. It is similar in design and function to the short-term kit with the exception that it will take a reading of the Radon levels over a 90-day period. After this period, the charcoal packet is mailed to the manufacturer’s laboratory for analysis with this process being the same as the short-term.

Note: Radon levels can vary depending on the season and the condition of the home. That is why it is important to follow the manufacturer’s instructions and guidelines when taking either one of the tests.

Re-testing should be conducted periodically, about every two years, to recheck for Radon levels because lifestyles change, basements become living areas or structural changes may occur that compromise the integrity of a building. The re-testing assures that the home is safe for healthful living providing all guidelines are followed.

Some states and/or local building codes require that Radon venting be installed in every newly constructed home due to the Radon levels in their area. To determine if Radon venting is required, contact the EPA or state DILHR (The Department of Industry Labor and Human Resources) regarding state building code requirements for Radon testing and for Building/Remodeling on Energy Efficiency.

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