DIY Radon Test Kit vs. Professional Radon Testing
Radon is a radioactive gas produced by the decay of elements like uranium. Radon is found in soil, rocks, and groundwater, and when released outside, it dissipates safely in the air. When released inside your home from the rocks and dirt beneath your home, it can build to dangerous levels, harming your health. Radon is the second-leading cause of lung cancer. There are over 20,000 radon-caused deaths every year.
Not every house has or will have elevated levels of radon, but one in 15 does, and there is no way to know if your home is affected without testing as radon gas is colorless, odorless, and tasteless. Any home with a radon level of 4.0 pCi/L or more needs to mitigate the gas.
There are two types of tests, passive and active, and there are three subtypes of passive tests, including charcoal, alpha track, and electret. Only charcoal and alpha track tests are available as a DIY radon test kit. Active tests are always conducted as professional radon testing.
If you're debating between a DIY radon test kit or professional radon testing, you should consider the reason behind the testing. If you merely want to know if a radon problem exists in your home, DIY testing can save you some time and money. If you need test results for a real estate transaction, you need professional radon testing.
DIY RADON TEST KIT
If you're considering a DIY radon test kit, you need view the test only as a means of determining if there is a radon problem at all. The accuracy of a DIY radon test kit is always uncertain because it's conducted by an amateur.
A DIY radon test kit will either be charcoal or alpha track. Charcoal tests absorb the radon in the air for a specified amount of time, and once in the lab, the radioactive particles emitted by the charcoal are counted or converted to light, giving a radon level readout. Alpha track tests use a plastic film that is etched by the alpha particles that strike it. In the lab, the tracks are counted, giving the radon level.
The instructions for your specific DIY radon test kit will be the same, or similar to every other test. Follow the instructions carefully. You can expect the following:
- Keep all doors and windows closed for 12 hours before the test, and during the test.
- Place the testing device at the lowest level of living, not the lowest level. You want to know the level of radon you're breathing daily, so testing your crawlspace or unused basement will yield inaccurate results.
- Leave the test undisturbed for 48 to 96 hours, depending on the duration time listed in the instructions for the test you bought.
- After the test concludes, send the device to the lab. They will send the results back to you promptly.
A DIY radon test kit will run you about $40, and they are available at most hardware and home improvement stores.
PROFESSIONAL RADON TESTING
Professional radon testing is the best option for the most accurate results and in real estate situations. Professional radon testing is performed by an impartial third-party who is trained and certified.
There are two types of tests exclusively available through certified professionals, include the passive electret test, and active tests. The electret test uses a Teflon disc that is statically charged. When an ion generated from radon decay strikes the disc, the electrical charge is reduced, and that reduction is measured in the lab. Active tests are the only ones that require electrical power. They use a continuous monitoring device to detect and record your radon levels the entire duration of the test.
Professional radon testing costs around $150 to $250. Active tests are more expensive than passive.
AFTER YOUR DIY RADON TEST KIT OR PROFESSIONAL RADON TESTING
After you use a DIY radon test kit or perform professional radon testing, you'll receive your results. Radon levels are measured in picocuries per liter of air (pCi/L). The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has an action level of 4.0 pCi/L. This means a testing result at or above this level needs prompt mitigation to protect your family best. While there is no safe level of radon, 4.0 pCi/L is considered by the EPA as a threshold for increased danger to your health.
Radon is best reduced through a radon mitigation system. The outdoor level averages 0.4 pCi/L, and the average home has a concentration of 1.25 pCi/L. While anything under 2.0 pCi/L is preferable, reducing your level from 4.0 pCi/L or higher to below 2.0 pCi/L is exceedingly difficult. Radon mitigation systems use a motorized fan and PVC piping to draw the radon from the rocks and soil beneath your home and vent it out at the top where it safely dissipates. Use a highly-trained and certified company for your professional radon testing and mitigation system installation needs.
More info? For more information about testing your home for dangerous elements, check out our other post: MOLD INSPECTION OR MOLD TESTING: WHERE TO START?Call 877-957-5670 to schedule an appointment with an AdvantaClean radon specialist today!