Radon Testing: What Homeowners Need to Know

Radon Testing: What Homeowners Need to Know

Importance of Radon Testing

Radon is a naturally occurring radioactive gas that originates from the breakdown of uranium in soil, rock, and water Since it’s colorless, odorless, and tasteless, it can easily go undetected without proper testing. The primary health risk associated with radon exposure is lung cancer. The Environmental Agency (EPA) has noted that radon the second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States responsible for approximately 21,000 deaths annually.

How Radon Testing is Performed

Radon testing stands as the sole method to determine radon levels in your home. There are two main types of radon tests:

Short-Term Testing

Duration: 2 to 7 days.
Devices Used: Activated charcoal detectors, electret ion chambers, continuous radon monitors (CRMs).
Procedure: Place the testing device in the lowest level of the home that is regularly used, following the manufacturer’s instructions. After the test, send the device to a lab for analysis.

Long-Term Testing

Duration: More than 90 days.
Devices Used: Alpha track detectors, electret ion chambers.
Procedure: Similar to short-term tests, but long-term testing provides a more accurate annual average radon level.

What to Do If Elevated Radon Levels Are Found

The EPA recommends action if radon levels are 4 picocuries per liter (pCi/L) or higher. Here are the steps homeowners should take:

Confirm Results

Perform a follow-up test to confirm the initial high readings. Long-term tests are preferable for confirmation.


Hire a Professional: Engage a certified radon mitigation contractor to address elevated radon levels. Look for professionals certified by organizations like the National Radon Proficiency Program (NRPP) or the National Radon Safety Board (NRSB).

Mitigation Techniques: Common methods include:

  1. Soil Suction: Draws radon from beneath the house and vents it outside.
  2. Sealing Cracks: Seal cracks and openings in the foundation and walls to reduce radon entry.
  3. House Pressurization: Uses a fan to create pressure differences that help prevent radon from entering the home.
  4. Heat Recovery Ventilator (HRV): Increases ventilation to reduce radon levels.

 Post-Mitigation Testing

After installing a mitigation system, perform another radon test to ensure levels have been reduced to below 4 pCi/L.

Ongoing Monitoring

Even after mitigation, it’s crucial to continue monitoring radon levels. Periodic testing, at least every two years or after significant home renovations, ensures that the mitigation system is functioning properly and that radon levels remain safe.


Radon testing is a crucial step in ensuring a safe and healthy home environment. By understanding the importance of testing, the procedures involved, and the steps to take if high levels are detected, homeowners can effectively manage and reduce the risks associated with radon exposure.

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