8 min read

A Simple Guide To Radon Testing | How Does It Work And What You Should Know

Feb 2, 2021 1:49:00 PM

Just a little over a decade ago, very little was known about radon.

Then media hype caused some people to panic and some people to question the validity of the risk of radon gas.

The truth about radon is somewhere in the middle of panic and skepticism.

With more research into the dangers of radon gas, we can confidently say that large quantities of radon are harmful to your health, but radon levels can be lowered.

There are still some discussions about what exactly a safe level of radon is and how long you can be exposed to it before it starts to harm your health, but everyone can agree on the side effects.

And unfortunately, the only way you can tell if you've been exposed to radon is to test your home.

In the article below, we will discuss several things you need to know about radon testing and reducing radon levels in your home.

Table of Contents

What is Radon?

Radon is a gas that occurs naturally in the ground from the breakdown of uranium in soil and rocks. 

Radon is odorless, colorless, and tasteless, so the only way to know if your home has high radon levels is to test it.

Outdoors, radon is harmless. But it can build up in homes that are built on top of soil with natural uranium deposits.

Radon concentrations are usually highest in the basement or crawl space because they are closest to the ground.

When you breathe in radon gas, it can get into your lungs and expose them to small amounts of radiation.

This radiation can damage the lining of your lungs and increase your risk of developing lung cancer.

Radon exposure is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States behind cigarette smoking.

The longer you breathe in high levels of radon, the greater your risk of developing lung cancer will be.

If you smoke on top of inhaling large amounts of radon, you increase your risk of lung cancer due to either factor exponentially.

The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that lung cancer due to radon exposure kills about 21,000 Americans every year.

-back to top

How Does Radon Enter Your Home?

Radon gas gets into your home after it leaves the soil.

Radon can get into your house through cracks in your walls or foundation.

Any house, of any age, anywhere in the country can have large quantities of radon.

And, since radon levels can fluctuate a lot in the soil, your neighbor's house could test safe while your home has elevated levels.

It all depends on the soil your house is built on and how it interacts with your home.

Radon can also enter your home through your water supply, but this poses a much lower risk than if it comes in through the soil.

Wondering how to stop radon from entering your home? Read our blog post: "Will Sealing My Basement Floor Help Lower Radon Levels?"

-back to top

Testing for Radon

Since radon gas can't be seen, smelled, or tasted, the only way you can tell if you're being exposed to it is to test for it. 

You can hire a professional radon company to do the test for you, or if you prefer, you can do it yourself with a kit from a hardware or big box.

Be sure to follow the instructions for the kit carefully. When the test is done, you will mail it to a lab and wait for your results.

-back to top

A radon test will see if you have elevated levels of radon

Short-Term Testing

A short-term test is best used to see if you need to do long-term testing or for a real estate transaction.

Short-term tests are usually activated charcoal-based or electret ion that will measure your radon levels up to seven days.

Because radon levels can fluctuate from day to day, long-term tests are usually recommended over short-term tests.

-back to top

Long-Term Tests

A long term test will measure the radon in your home for 90 days up to one year.

Most long-term tests are based on alpha particle testing.

This will give you a more accurate picture of your average annual levels, which can change from day to day and month to month based on air pressure, winds, variable soil moisture, and snow cover.

Long-term radon tests are available through state radon agencies, online retailers and can be performed by professional radon companies.

-back to top

Continuous Radon Testing

A continuous radon test will plug into a standard outlet and be used for short-term and long-term testing and give you a running average.

Continuous tests use an ionization chamber and sample your air continuously.

-back to top

What Should You Do If You Have High Levels Of Radon?

If your radon test registers 4 picoCuries per liter (pCi/L) or higher, you should take steps to lower your levels.

Most experts agree that levels of 4 pCi/L and above are hazardous to your health.

The most common thing to do is to install a radon mitigation system.

A radon mitigation system will ventilate your home by using pipes to draw radon gas up out of the soul and vent it out above your house.

One of the most effective mitigation systems s a vent pipe placed in the sump pit or a hole made under your concrete slab.

A special fan will be placed in your attic or outside of your home to draw the air through the vent and radon from under the floor.

A professional mitigation company could charge a few hundred or a few thousand dollars to install your system.

You should act quickly if your home has high radon levels, but there is no need to panic.

Risks from radon exposure are cumulative, so there is no need to move out of your house or hire the first contractor who can fix the problem. 

Take your time to research your local mitigation companies and choose the best one.

-back to top

What Should You Do If You Have Been Exposed?

Unfortunately, there aren't any tests that can measure how much radon you've actually been exposed to.

But, if your home had large quantities of radon, and you're afraid of the long-term effects of exposure, schedule regular doctor appointments to look for possible signs of lung cancer. 

The most common symptoms are shortness of breath, new or worsening cough, pain or tightness in the chest, trouble swallowing, or hoarseness.

If you are also a smoker, this is even more reason to quit smoking right away.

The combination of cigarette smoking and radiation from radon will increase your risk of developing lung cancer more than either smoking or radon alone.

If you're afraid you're being exposed to radon at your job, the US government has established the Radiation Exposure Compensation Program. 

The Radiation Exposure Compensation program offers compensation for lung cancer patients and other lung diseases to people who qualify.

-back to top

Contact A Professional Radon Company

Hopefully, this radon testing guide sheds some light on the importance of getting a radon test for your home.

If you are worried about the radon in your house, you need to contact an experienced mitigation company to get your home tested for radon.

Radon Eliminator can reduce radon levels and is rapidly becoming one of the largest and most respected Radon Mitigation Service Providers in the State of Ohio. 

Radon Eliminator has an experienced team of professionally certified Radon Mitigation Specialists. 

They use state of the art radon testing and removal equipment to serve each one of their customer's unique challenges. 

To make sure your home doesn't have a radon problem, contact Radon Eliminator to test it.

If a problem is found, they will fix it.

Click the button below for your discounted test.

Get a Discounted test

Topics: Radon Testing