Choosing the Best Radon Detector for Your Home

When it comes to your family’s health, choosing the right radon detector is very important. Radon is a radioactive gas sometimes emitted when naturally-occurring uranium decays in rocks, water or soil. It is a deadly carcinogen, second only to cigarette smoking as a leading cause of lung cancer. Having a quality radon detector in your home is vital, because radon is a silent killer – invisible and odorless. Homeowners and their families have no other way to know if they are being exposed to the gas.

There are many different ways of gauging your risk for radon exposure – short-term testing and long-term testing. Short-term testing is obviously the quickest way to obtain results, with the device remaining in place anywhere from two to ninety days, depending on the method used. Short-term testing is the less ideal of the two, due to the fact that radon levels in a given area can vary depending on the season. But if you need quick answers regarding the radon exposure levels in your home, then short-term testing is the way to go.

So, what exactly is involved in short-term radon testing? A charcoal test kit, such as the Radon Zone Short-Term Test Kit ($15), is relatively easy to use and provides quick results. The shipping and lab fees are included in the price, which is an important thing to keep in mind when shopping for a kit (some kits include hidden fees for these services). The testing time on a test like this one is three to seven days, depending on your patience level and need for quick results. If you decide to do a short-term test, the EPA recommends that you do two around the same time and take the average of the two results. When conducting short-term tests, follow the instructions included, and keep the following in mind. According to the EPA, the test should (1) be placed on the lowest level of your home, at least twenty inches from the floor; (2) be conducted once all outside windows have been closed for twelve (12) hours; and (3) not be conducted during severe storms or high winds. The short-term testing will give you a “snapshot” of your current radon exposure.

Long-term testing generally remains in place for a period between three and twelve months. Two common types of kits used in long-term testing are alpha track and eletret. The long-term testing is used in a way similar to the short-term, but the long-term testing takes into account normal living conditions, providing a more accurate picture of your day-to-day exposure throughout the year. Just like the short-term test, you send the testing kit in to the laboratory, and they analyze the kit and provide you with detailed results. One such kit is the Radon Zone Alpha Track Test Kit ($31), which includes the shipping and lab fees. This kit will let you know if you are being exposed to radon in your home over long periods of normal living.

There are other ways to test your home and property for radon, as well. One way is through a digital radon gas alarm, such as the Radon Zone Safety Siren Pro Series 3 Alarm ($119). If you have had a previous problem with radon, or if your short- or long-term testing indicate a problem, then these alarms are worth the cost to ensure the problem is taken care of and doesn’t resurface. If you get your household water supply from a private well, it is also a good idea to use a radon water testing kit to ensure your well has not been contaminated. The Water Test Kit ($25) from Radon Zone requires a small sample of your well water, and is then sent in for laboratory testing. A similar test can be conducted on soil, although these tests are less common for household use.

Radon may be colorless and odorless, but with today’s home testing technologies, homeowners can find out if they have a problem with radon and do something to fix it. Whichever testing method you choose to use in your home, it’s important to remember that knowing your risk of radon exposure can help you safeguard your family from this deadly gas.

Radon Detector – Common Questions Answered by Charles Berkley, obtained June 16, 2008

A Citizen’s Guide To Radon, obtained June 16, 2008

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