Radon is an odorless, radioactive, toxic gas, which is a result of Uranium’s natural decay in the soil. Innately, Radon can be found anywhere and it is more alarming because it is a causative factor for lung cancer. There are ways to test your home for Radon and we’ve compiled and simplified what we’ve researched on this for you.
A short-term radon test lasts between a minimum of 48 hours up to 3 months. You should not open any windows or doors of the basement for 12 hours before the start of the test and until after the test is done to prevent skewed results. For long-term radon tests, that are active for at least 3 months to one year, rules may differ depending on the detector device.
This cancer-causing gas is distressing because exposure is an immediate health threat. You may be wondering where it comes from and how it affects your home and family. Don’t worry, there are preventive actions you can do to keep your basement Radon-free. Keep reading and let’s look into radon and radon tests.
Dos and Donts During a Radon Test
Radon is considered to be a dangerous, radioactive gas that can cause lung cancer. Because it is odorless and colorless, it’s difficult to know if a house has been exposed to it without testing. This health threat easily flows through air circulation.
Radon is a high-level carcinogen and not even the smallest concentration is considered safe. This is why radon testing is so important. These short-term or long-term test kits are convenient to use and budget-friendly, and the best is that you can get them from the stores.
The test kit should be positioned on the level nearest the ground, like the basement. The device should be located 20 feet from the floor far from the vents, heat, humidity, and coolers. Remember, the device has to remain undisturbed for the entire duration of the test.
You should close all windows and doors 12 hours before the test up until the duration of the test. All entry and exit doors should only be opened when necessary to prevent getting skewed results. If portals of entry are opened, radon concentration levels can be lower than expected or in actuality.
The homeowner has the option to choose what radon test kit to use but ideally, a short-term test kit should not be used during storms or strong winds. Also, do not turn on fans in the house as much as possible.
These testing kits are easy to follow and there is no need to call for a professional radon tester if you’re confident to conduct it yourself. Just make sure that you follow the instructions and send the results to an appropriate laboratory for analysis.
How Does Radon Enter a Home?
The best analogy to explain Radon spreading to the entire house is that of a chimney. A house is like a chimney because it pulls air from the bottom and it spreads upward and outward.
Radon is a product of Uranium’s natural decay in the soil. The basement is the closest ground-level component of a house and because a foundation is not impenetrable, radon can slip through the cracks and mingle with the basement air.
Like a chimney, a stack-effect occurs when air from the basement is carried to the upper levels and thereby, exposing the house and its inhabitants to a cancer-causing gas. Radon is the second leading causative factor of lung cancer and it shouldn’t be taken lightly.
Exposure to radon can be found anywhere because it bleeds through the soil. It only becomes harmless when it is released into open-air and dissipates. This is not the case for radon build-up inside the house because radon wouldn’t easily disappear.
Do I Need a Radon Detector?
The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) highly recommends getting old and new homes radon tested. Radon is a distinctly odorless and colorless hazardous gas and the only way to know if you are exposed to this gas is to have the building tested.
The EPA suggests testing all homes from the third floor and below. An annual radon test is advisable but short-term test kits are also acceptable. Regardless, you will need a radon detector to confirm exposure.
Types of Radon Detectors
Active Radon Detectors
The active radon detectors are devices that use a power source to work. They work by continuously monitoring the air for radon for an extended period of time. Radon is high when the devices sense a high concentration of alpha particles, which radon exudes.
Depending on your preference and use, you can choose a radon alarm or a radon level monitor to tell you the current concentration of the gas in the air. There are two types of active radon detectors: continuous radon monitors and continuous working level monitors.
Passive Radon Detectors
The passive radon detectors, on the other hand, do not need a power source to work. Also, compared to active radon detectors, they are less expensive. These detectors are charcoal liquid scintillation devices, alpha track detectors, and charcoal canisters.
These work by exposing the detectors to the room air where radon is to be tested. The results of the test will then be turned over to an appropriate laboratory for analysis. Passive radon detectors are more convenient to use because they’re usually available in hardware or drug stores, and some laboratories.
Does Radon Stay in the Basement?
Radon comes from the ground, specifically the soil. Logistically, it’s the basement that is most at risk for radon exposure in the air, but unfortunately, radon doesn’t just stay in the basement. Because it is gas, it can spread to other parts of the house through air circulation.
Unless the basement is made to be air-tight and the ventilation system is not connected to the central ventilation system of the house, radon may be sealed in the basement and released to the outside air. However, this is not usually the case.
Once radon is found in the basement, it is strongly advised to do a radon test on the first to the third floor of the house. Radon is an odorless and colorless gas that easily blends with room air through cracks and holes in the house.
How Often Should You Test for Radon?
The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommends a radon test in your house at least every two years. Radon is a radioactive gas with no order or color. It seeps into the house and poses a major health risk to you and your family members.
One negative result is not an assurance that the house will be radon-free forever. It’s important to continuously test your home for radon to prevent a health threat. Preventive measures don’t only mean monitoring for radon and its high concentration.
EPA also recommends radon testing for every seasonal change. For instance, what concentration level you may know of in the summer may drastically change over in the winter. A short-term radon test is preferable to use.
By now, we’ve established that radon comes from the ground and seeps into the basement through the foundation’s cracks and holes. Radon monitoring devices are best supported by regular home repairs and renovations. Radon exposure can be prevented by sealing or fixing the portals of entry.
Can You Enter a House During a Radon Test?
You may enter the house during a radon test only when necessary lest you run the risk of skewing the results of the test. One of the basic dos and donts during radon testing includes sealing doors and windows of the house 12 hours prior to the test and during.
The test should be done on the level closest to the ground therefore, a basement, if present, is the ideal room to conduct the test. Keep note that it’s important to leave the test undisturbed for at least 48 hours or depending on the test kit chosen.
It is much preferred not to open the basement door during the radon test. This is because radon is an odorless and colorless gas that mingles with room air. If a portal of entry is open, you risk getting skewed results of a much lower radon concentration level.
This result will mislead you and may put you and your house members further at risk. It is important to undergo the proper testing procedure with the dos and donts of radon testing to get accurate results and act on preventive measures.
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