Air Quality Testing for Radon Gas: Determining this Risk Exposure is as Important as a Mold Inspection


There are many seen and barely seen silent, potential killers in residential homes today. Many homeowners are diligent about getting a mold inspection after a flood. Everyone realizes that after Hurricane Katrina. But, not everyone is aware of the need for air quality testing for radon gas.

What is Radon Gas?

Radon is a radioactive toxic gas resulting from the natural radioactive breakdown of uranium. Think uranium is only present in nuclear medicine and weapon production? Wrong. It’s also in water, air, soil, and rocks. So, it’s present in the home. Lung cancer research has shown that radon is a contributing cancer factor, especially for smokers.

How Can a Homeowner Determine if this Deadly Gas is Present?

Radon testing comes in two forms – short-term testing and long-term testing. With the short-term, the radon test equipment remains in the home for two to ninety days. Which one to use? The government recommends beginning with a short-term test. It may be a charcoal cannister, an electret ion chamber, an alpha track, or something similar.

A second short-term test may be required if the initial test is 4 pCi/L or higher.

Long-term radon air quality testing is for a period of longer than ninety days. The reason for a long-term test is for the homeowner to get a more comprehensive feel of what the radon gas level is like on a year-round basis. This radon test equipment may also be an alpha track or an electret device.

What Radon Test Results are within Range?

Typically, indoor radon test results come in at 1.3 pCi/L on an average, and the outdoor average is 0.4 pCi/L. The U.S. Congress’ ultimate goal is for the population to reduce indoor radon gas levels to the outdoor average. While this is pie-in-the-sky with current corrective measures, most homes that are far above the average can be brought down to 2 pCi/L.

Household Radon Sources and How to Achieve Radon Safety

The main two ways radon gas is introduced into the home is through tap water and the soil, with soil carrying the higher risk. The risk exposure from the water supply is from inhalation and ingestion.

Surface water is not usually associated with radon gas. It’s far more likely to raise its ugly head in groundwater from a well or other source. Point-of-use water treatment devices can provide some relief.

One effective way to remove radon gas from the home employs radon fans, a type of basement ventilation system if the home is set up that way. When partnered with a vent pipe system, it pulls radon from the lowest points in the home and vent it to the exterior of the home. This system is called a soil suction radon reduction system.

Homeowners planning to place a home on the market in the near future would be well advised to set up radon test equipment as soon as possible to determine risk exposure and document the radon test results. This goes for a documented mold inspection as well. More and more prospective buyers are looking for this information.