Why Your Home Radon Test Might Not Be As Accurate As You Think


There’s one indoor air contaminant that holds the title as scariest and most dangerous of them all: radon. Radon is the byproduct of nuclear decay of elements like uranium or thorium that lay deep underground. It emanates to the earth’s surface as an odorless, colorless gas, which can collect inside homes and other structures.

Coming in right behind smoking, exposure to radon is documented as the second largest cause of lung cancer worldwide.

If you’re testing for radon in your home, here a couple reasons why your test’s accuracy might not be as accurate as you think. There are also three tips for getting an accurate reading at the end of this post.

Extreme Fluctuations in Radon Levels are Normal

Due to radon’s gaseous nature, as well as the way it emerges from the ground, the measurable levels of radon in your home can change drastically from day to day. This means that the short-term tests you might find at your local hardware or home improvement store are next to useless. Radon could be nearly non-existent in your home for days at a time, only to skyrocket days later.

Movement and Activity Skew Results Drastically

Despite it’s toxicity, radon disperses relatively easily. Opening and closing windows and doors, walking around, and simply living in your home can cause radon readings to be skewed. This means that while the overall levels of radon in your home may be dangerously high, the movement of your family in your home can cause your test to be highly inaccurate.

How to Get an Accurate Reading

Here are three simple rules for getting an accurate radon reading in your home.

  1. Test Regularly – The EPA recommends that you test for radon in your home every two years. This advice is very important to follow, as it can uncover changes in radon levels over time.
  2. Test Long-Term – Every time you test for radon, opt to use a long-term test rather than a short-term one. This will allow you to capture spikes and troughs in the levels of radon in your home, giving you a larger sample of data on which to draw a safe conclusion.
  3. Use a Professional – Although home tests are easy and cheap, you’ll get a much better reading by using a professional radon contractor with a legitimate radon testing machine.

Would you like to know more about the most common home air contaminants? Check out the graphic below, from Tom’s Mechanical, to learn all about them and how you can filter them out of your family’s air.

radon pollution

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