The Basics of Radon Testing

Radon Testing Colorado Springs is a dangerous gas that can be found in homes. It can cause lung cancer and other health problems. It can be reduced with simple measures.

Test kits are available at many home centers and hardware stores. Be sure to close all doors and windows for the test duration.

radon testing

Short-term tests are the most common radon testing method and are expected to be used in many home inspections. These tests last between 2-90 days and provide a snapshot of the radon levels in the house during the test window. These tests can be performed using several different kits, but most include a container filled with activated charcoal that absorbs the radon gas. When the test is done, the charcoal is mailed back to the lab for analysis, and the results are reported.

The main issue with using short-term radon testing is that the radon levels can vary significantly over a very short period. These variations result in inaccurate measurements that can lead to a false positive or negative, seriously affecting homeowners. In the case of a false negative, the homeowner may choose not to mitigate the radon level, believing that the home is safe when, in reality, the radon concentration could be dangerously high.

False positives, on the other hand, can be equally problematic. They can lead the homeowner to believe that a radon mitigation system is unnecessary when it would greatly reduce their exposure and, therefore, their risk of lung cancer. This type of misguided decision can cost the homeowner thousands in unnecessary radon mitigation expenses or, even worse, may leave them susceptible to a lung cancer diagnosis when they could have prevented it.

Fortunately, the long-term testing option is much more reliable than short-term tests. Leaving the detector in the house for 90 days allows it to account for the day-to-day and seasonal variations that can make short-term tests inaccurate up to 99 percent of the time.

This is why the EPA recommends that homes first perform a short-term radon test and, if the results indicate that the radon levels are above the Action Level of 4 pCi/L, follow it up with a long-term test to get an accurate reading of the home’s year-round average radon concentration. This will also allow the homeowner to verify any short-term testing results before making significant decisions based on those results, such as air sealing work, heating/air conditioning system changes, or foundation modification.

Most people have a short-term radon test as part of their home inspection since it is required in some real estate transactions. However, radon is a gas that moves throughout your home from the soil and can only be detected with a specialized radon testing device. The best way to know if you live in a house with elevated radon levels is to conduct a long-term test, which lasts 90 days or more and gives you a more accurate picture of the year-round average radon levels in your house.

When purchasing a long-term test kit, read the instructions carefully. The device will need to be placed in your basement or the lowest level of your home, in a spot where you spend four or more hours a day, closed up for the duration of the test (picking it up briefly to dust under it won’t hurt), and mailed back to the lab for analysis once the testing period is over. Radonova’s long-term alpha track test kit uses a method called “alpha track detection,” which means that the radon particles in your home hit a coated chip on the inside of the device, leaving surface-level marks that can be measured by the lab and reported as your home’s radon level.

One big reason why a long-term radon test is better than a single short-term radon test is that your radon levels can fluctuate from day to day and also from season to season. Short-term radon tests may not account for this, which could cause you to seek radon mitigation when it is unnecessary.

The EPA recommends that homeowners take short-term and long-term tests and then compare the results to determine whether or not remediation is required. Additionally, it is recommended to retest your home a few months after the completion of a radon mitigation system to ensure that radon levels have decreased as intended. Retesting every two years is also a good idea, as radon levels can change over time.

The liquid scintillation device is an integral part of the radon testing process. It is a simple and effective method for measuring radon activity in groundwater samples. This method is based on the principle that scintillation light emits photons when interacting with ionized electrons. The resulting photons are detected by a photomultiplier tube and counted to estimate the radon concentration in the water sample. To ensure a high-quality measurement, the liquid scintillation device must be kept in a cool and dark place, as luminescence can influence the estimated radon concentration. In addition, the device must be charged to discharge static electricity. This can be done by placing the sample container underneath the scintillation cocktail. Finally, the water must be stored in a sealed bottle and capped to prevent sample aeration.

Several types of radon testing devices are available for home use, with two groups being more popular than others. The first group of short-term radon test devices do not require power and include alpha track detectors, charcoal canisters, and charcoal liquid scintillation devices. These devices are generally available in drug, hardware, and other stores, online, and through some laboratories. The other group of radon testing devices, long-term test devices, consist of a charcoal electret ion chamber or an alpha track detector with an electronic counting system. These are only available through laboratories and are more likely to accurately indicate a residence’s year-round average radon level than short-term tests.

As mentioned earlier, the accuracy of a radon testing measurement is a function of the collected radon activity and the number of counts per minute, the radon decay product levels, the sensitivity of the instrument, and the background radiation level. In addition, radon transport and self-attenuation are important factors in determining the light pulse height spectra measured by the scintillator, especially for large-volume instruments.

The transport and self-attenuation effects can be approximated using a mathematical model that calculates the neutron field at the detector surface, taking into account all aspects influencing the neutron distribution from the source to the diagnostic (including realistic geometries and material composition of both the fusion device and the detector). This calculation is performed by modeling the measured light output pulse height spectra with the help of a response function matrix. This procedure is known as forward modeling.

Radon test kits provide a quick, easy way to measure radon levels in a home. They typically consist of a small measuring device placed in the lowest occupied level of the building and left there for a specified amount of time. It is important to follow the exact instructions of the test kit, as disturbing or interfering with the device will invalidate its results. Some test kits contain features that prevent or detect interference; a professional can advise you of the best options for your situation.

The EPA recommends testing every home, whether a primary residence or a multifamily building. Testing is most accurate in the winter months, and placing the test in a room where people spend the most time is preferable. It is also important to avoid ventilating rooms more than usual during the test, as this can alter results.

Short-term tests last up to 90 days and produce results fairly quickly. They are a good choice when a real estate transaction occurs or for homeowners who want a more definitive answer on their radon levels.

Long-term test kits remain in the home for over a year and can give a more accurate reading of a house’s yearly average radon level. They can be active or passive devices and are usually more expensive than short-term radon test kits.

When selecting a radon test kit, it is important to consider how it will be used. For example, if the test is being conducted for real estate purposes, select a test that is compatible with that process and can be mailed directly to the lab. Using a test kit compliant with EPA guidelines is also a good idea, as these will be more likely to produce reliable results.

Whether you are using a passive or active device, you should always retest after making changes to the structure of the building, such as remodeling the basement, adding insulation, or installing a heating/cooling system. Retesting will help ensure that your installed radon mitigation systems are working as they should.


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