Best Time To Test for Radon

Radon, the natural yet radioactive gas cannot be smelled or seen, but it can cause lung cancer as well as other health risks. In fact, it is the leading cause of said cancer in nonsmokers, responsible for 21,000 deaths every year. Suffice it to say that radon is something that needs to be taken seriously, and homeowners need to know when and how they should test for radon.

What is Radon?

Radon is the result of natural radioactive decay of uranium in water, soil, and rocks. It can move from the ground to the air and dissolve in water. Then, in about four days, the equivalent of its half-life, it begins to decay, emitting ionizing radiation as alpha particles as well as  other by-products. These emissions then become radioactive and continue emitting radiation until a stable, non-radioactive product is created. When measured, it is put in  picocuries per liter of air or pCi/L.

When to Test for Radon?

While any exposure to Radon is dangerous, long-term exposure of 4 pCi/L or higher is dangerous, and the EPA recommend such homes be fixed. Radon as a gas can come into a building at any time, but cracks and gaps in floors and ceilings, make allow the vapors to get through easily. Once trapped in a building, the gases can accumulate and become concentrated. Radon can also become trapped in water from wells.

How to Test for Radon?

Anyone can use a “do-it-yourself” kit to test your Radon, which can usually be found in retail outlets, hardware stores, county extension offices, health departments, or online. There are two groups of devices that can be used in testing: passive and active. Passive devices don’t need power to function and include charcoal canisters, alpha track detectors, and charcoal liquid scintillation detectors. Active devices require power to function and include continuous working monitors. However, the EPA suggests you opt for a professional to accurately check your Radon levels, especially because some states require specific protocol and licenses. And, you do not want to be inaccurate with your readings, especially because of the harmful side effects. Before you hire someone to test your Radon levels, check with your state Radon office or ask your state to provide lists of service providers if the state regulates these regulations. If your state does not, ask your prospective contractors if they have any credentials.