Radon Detectors: Using Them to Reduce Health Risks

Radon is an invisible radioactive gas and the second largest cause of lung cancer in the Untied States according to the US Environmental Protection Agency. Radon is also colorless and odorless, making it a very insidious health risk. Radon can be found both outside and in people’s homes. Radon can most commonly be found in soil and water from wells, which is how it gets into homes.

Radon can be detected with tests that can be bought at local hardware and home improvement stores. The at home test kits can run as low as less than ten dollars and many are easy to set-up. Radon testing can take anywhere from a few days to several months, both long term and short term tests are available.

Many at home test kits come in the form of charcoal canisters or digital detectors. Charcoal test kits are less expensive but also less efficient as radon levels in a home can vary daily, weekly, monthly, and seasonally. Results are obtained by mailing away forms included with each detector. To setup an at home test kit, follow all package instructions, close all windows in the home for 12 hours before starting a test, be careful to not test during times of high winds or storms. Place the kit on the lowest level of the home. Be sure to place the test in the lowest level of your home with occupancy. Place the test away from drafts or high heat. Also be sure to not to place the test in a kitchen or bathroom.

Digital radon detectors can cost a hundred dollars or more but give exact readings continuously. Radon is measured in Pico Curies per liter of air, if your radon detector or test gives a reading at 4 Pico Curies per liter of air or above the EPA recommends having a contractor install a radon reduction system.

The cost of such systems being installed can range from $800 to around $2,500 depending on the size of the home and other factors. Contractors need to have training in radon reduction before beginning work on a home. The EPA recommends citizens contact their state radon office for information on exactly who in their state is certified to test homes for radon and repair them.

The EPA recommends that people also ask if a home has been tested for radon and test homes they are thinking of selling for radon. Newer homes are now being built to reduce radon exposure. These new homes are either built with radon resistant materials or with a radon reduction system. Essentially, the level of tolerable risk is left to the home owner. Radon detectors and tests seem something to truly consider.

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