How to Test for Radon

Radon - What You Need to Know Series

We get it. Most of us don’t know much about Radon.

If you are like most people, you have a vague idea what radon is and know it is possibly dangerous to your health. Even though we have known about the risks posed by radon in homes for 30 years or so, public awareness is still quite low. Oddly, while many of us worry about things like the dye in our foods we give little thought to the radioactive gas we are breathing in our homes.

This is not the PhD in radon but the field guide or the handbook.

Radon Test Levels Graph

What do I need to know?

While you can find much more information on our site if you are interested, this is the “Radon 101” you need to make informed decisions about Radon for your family.

How to Test for Radon

Why test for Radon?

As discussed in our article on the Health Risks of Radon, radon is dangerous. Importantly, the only way to know if your health is at risk due to radon in your home is to get a radon test. Even if both of your neighbors have low radon, you may still have high radon in your home. The distribution of Uranium in the soil is non-uniform so the risk is unique to each home site.Β 

Granted there are regional trends. For instance radon is quite low in Hawaii and generally quite high through much of the west , Midwest, and north east. That said, the EPA, Surgeon General, and the CDC all recommend every home be tested for radon.

Types of Radon Tests

There are two primary distinctions between types of radon tests (1) the length of the test, and (2) whether a test kit or continuous radon monitor is used.

Radon tests are divided into either short term tests or long term tests. Short term radon tests range from 48 hours to 89 days. Long term radon tests are 90 days or longer.

Short term radon tests have the advantage of being cheaper and, of course faster. Whereas long term radon tests are more accurate as they can include more variation over time in the test result. A full year long test would give the most accurate result reflecting all seasonal variations in radon levels. Short term tests are far more common because 90 days is a long time to wait, and the short term tests are generally quite accurate.

The second distinction has to do with how the test was conducted. The cheapest way to do a radon test is with a short termΒ radon test kit. These you can buy off Amazon or at most hardware stores for $20 or less. There are many similar test kits available. We like the Radonova Quickscreen Tests. You follow the directions included with the kit and mail it to a laboratory for analysis. The lab typically sends you the results via email within several days. A radon professional may use test kits as well.

The other way to do a radon test is with a continuous radon monitor (CRM). These are machines that take regular readings of the radon levels and generate a report at the end of the test. These are the fastest way to learn your radon levels and the most expensive type of test. You can expect to have a professional do a test with a CRM it will cost you around $100-200.Β  The pro will leave the machine in your house for at least 2 days and send you the report after they pick the machine up. If you are in a real estate transaction you will likely want a test with a CRM.

Another option that could be a great value is buying a consumer grade continuous radon monitor. These are $150-200 on Amazon. We like the Airthings Corentium Home. For around the cost of a professional test you can get an ongoing measurement. Another advantage of these is that once you know your levels you can loan the monitor to your family or friends and they can learn their radon levels too.

Example Radon Test Setup with Professional Continuous Radon Monitor

Is One Test Enough?

The EPA has detailed testing protocols which you can find elsewhere on our site. Basically they recommend if your first radon test comes back high you conduct a second test to confirm the levels. Then make your decision about whether you need to get radon mitigation based on the average of the two.

The EPA has separate protocols for real estate transactions accounting for the shorter time frames. These protocols allow for simultaneous tests with kits rather than back to back confirmation tests. These also allow for relying on a single test with a professional CRM.

How will I understand the radon test results?

Good question, the next article in this series tells you how to do just that.

Click here to learn about How to Understand Your Radon Levels.

*Disclaimer: All content in this report, including: text, images, audio, or other formats were created for informational purposes only. The Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this Website.

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