SURE WIN CE
WHY SOULD I TEST?
Radon problems have been identified in every state. The EPA estimates that nearly 1 in every 15 homes in the U.S. has indoor radon levels at or above the recommended action guideline level of 4 picocuries per liter (4 pCi/L) on a yearly average. Click "U.S. Map" to view the radon zone map.
You cannot predict radon levels based on state, local, and neighborhood radon measurements. Do not rely on radon test results taken in other homes in the neighborhood to estimate the radon level in your home. Homes which are next to each other can have different indoor radon levels. It is possible for one home to have elevated levels while a neighboring home does not. Testing is the only way to find out what your home's radon level is.
More and more, home buyers and renters are asking about radon levels before they buy or rent a home. Because real estate sales happen quickly, there is often little time to deal with radon and other issues. The best thing to do is to test for radon NOW and save the results in case the buyer is interested in them. Fix a problem if it exists so it won’t complicate your home sale.
HOW IS RADON MEASURED?
The amount of radon radioactivity in the air is measured in “picocuries per liter of air,” or “pCi/L.” Sometimes test results are expressed in Working Levels (WL) rather than picocuries per liter (pCi/L) (4 pCi/L equals 0.016 WL). The EPA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reccommend that homes with radon levels 4pCi/L or greater be fixed.
To get an accurate understanding of the Radon level in a home, long term testing of 90 days or more should be done, since levels in a home can vary greatly, going from safe to dangerous in short periods of time. The EPA and Surgeon General recommend testing all homes below the 3rd floor.
SHORT TERM TESTING
The quickest way to test is with short term tests. Short-term tests remain in your home for two days to 90 days, depending on the device. “Charcoal canisters,” “alpha track,” “electret ion chamber,” “continuous monitors,” and “charcoal liquid scintillation” detectors are most commonly used for short-term testing. Because radon levels tend to vary from day to day and season to season, a short-term test is less likely than a long-term test to tell you your year round average radon level. If you need results quickly, a short-term test followed by a second short term test may be used. If you are doing a short term test lasting just 2 or 3 days, be sure to close your windows and outside doors at least 12 hours before beginning the test and keep them closed as much as possible during the test. You should not conduct short term tests lasting just 2 or 3 days during unusually sever storms or periods of unusually high winds. Heating and air conditioning system fans that re-circulate air may be operated. Do not operate fans or other machines which bring in air from outside. Fans that are part of a radon reduction system or small exhaust fans operating only for short periods of time may run during the test. The test kit should be placed in the lowest lived in level of the home, the basement if it is frequently used, otherwise the first floor. Place the kit at least 20 inches above the floor in a location where it won’t be disturbed, away from drafts, high heat, high humidity, and exterior walls. Sometimes short-term tests are less definitive about whether or not your home is above 4 pCi/L. This can happen when your results are close to 4 pCi/L. For example, if the average of your two short-term test results is 4.1 pCi/L, there is about a 50% chance that your year-round average is somewhat below 4 pCi/L.
LONG TERM TESTING
Long term tests remain in your home for more than 90 days. “Alpha track” and “electret” detectors are commonly used for this type of testing. A long-term test will give you a reading that is more likely to tell you your home’s year-round average radon level.
ELECTRONIC DIGITAL RADON GAS DETECTOR
These "Electronic Digital Detectors" continuously monitor (updated hourly) and display short term readings (average of the past 7 days) and long term readings (average since powered up or last reset with a maximum of 5 years). They will also sound an alarm if your short term reading (for 30 consecutive days) or your long term reading reaches 4 pCi/L or above.
If you prefer you can hire a qualified tester to do the testing for you. You can contact your "State Radon Office" about obtaining a list of qualified testers. You can also contact a private radon proficiency program for lists of privately certified radon professionals serving your area such as the "National Radon Safety Board" or the "National Environmental Health Association".
TEST RESULT PARAMETERS
The average indoor radon level is estimated to be about 1.3 pCi/L, and about 0.4 pCi/L is normally found outdoors. The U.S. Congress has set a long-term goal that indoor radon levels be no more than outdoor levels. While this goal is not yet technologically achievable in all cases, most homes today can be reduced to 2 pCi/L or below.
Fix your home if your long-term test result is 4 pCi/L or more. However, the EPA believes that any radon exposure carries some risk. No level of radon is safe. Even radon levels below 4 pCi/L pose some risk and you can reduce your risk of lung cancer by lowering your radon level. Even if your test result is below 4 pCi/L, you will want to test again in the future or do some mitigation.
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