Testing your home for Radon

Middlesex, Essex and Worcester, MA counties have areas of high geologic potential for radon. However, homes tested in areas of high geologic radon potential can have low radon readings and homes in areas of low geologic radon potential can have high readings. All homes should be tested for radon. Any home can have a radon problem.

Testing is the only way to know if you and your family are at risk from radon. EPA and the U.S. Surgeon General recommend testing all homes for radon. EPA also recommends testing in schools and hospitals.

Radon Action Level

Be Aware! If your living patterns change and you begin occupying a lower level of your home (such as a basement), you should retest your home on that level.

EPA, the Environmental Protection Agency recommends testing the lowest living area of the home or heavily used areas such as basement family rooms, laundry rooms, workshops, etc.

Radon Penetration

Short Term Testing

The quickest way to test is with short-term tests. Short-term tests remain in your home for 2 to 90 days, depending on the device. Testing for radon comes in two forms, passive and active devices. Passive devices collect samples over a period of time and the collection is then analyzed. Active devices continually measure the radon levels by actively drawing the sample into the device electronically.

We use Charcoal Liquid Scintillation Devices (passive) and Continuous Radon Monitoring Machine (active) for short-term testing devices. Because radon levels tend to vary from day to day and season to season, a short-term test is less likely than a long-term test to tell you your year-round average radon level. But if you need results quickly, you can use a short-term test followed by a second short-term test to decide whether to fix your home.

Close your windows and outside doors for 12 hours prior to the test and keep them closed during the test. You can continue to operate heating and air-conditioning system fans that circulate air, but don't operate fans or other machines that bring in air from outside. You can continue to operate fans that are part of a radon-reduction system. And it is recommended not to conduct short-term tests lasting just 2 or 3 days during unusually severe storms or periods of unusually high winds.

Short-term testing devices are placed in the lowest lived-in level of your home (for example, the basement if it's frequently used; otherwise, the first floor). It is put in a room that is used regularly (like a living room, playroom, den, or bedroom) but not in your kitchen or bathroom due to moisture and venting.

The devices are placed at least 20 inches above the floor and 3 feet from an exterior window or door in a location where it won't be disturbed—away from drafts, high heat, high humidity and exterior walls.

Continuous Radon Monitoring is our preferred choice of testing for many reasons. They are tamper proof, has a motion detector inside the unit to identify movement of device, offers immediate test results that are graphed and radioactive alpha particles are counted and itemized on a data spreadsheet.

Charcoal Liquid Scintillation Devices will offer a very close value to the Continuous Radon Monitoring Machine. Once the test is finished, the vials are resealed, placed back into the package and sent to the lab specified right away for analysis. You should receive your test results within 2 weeks. Keep in mind, the negative to these tests is that there is downtime for mailing the package, lab analysis and returned results, tampering and proper pickup of canisters, particularly in real estate transactions. The only person picking up the canisters in a real estate transaction should be the Certified Radon Measurement Provider, not the real estate agent involved in the transaction.