When is the best time to test for radon?
The best time to test is when you have "plenty of time"! You live in your house "year-round". You should technically want to know your "year-round average" (or close to it). If you are conducting your own test, consider doing a short term test (3 days). Understand that when you do a short term test, you are simply taking a "snapshot" of what is in the home for "3 days"! There are TEN "3-day periods" in a month! If you tested several times your results would most likely vary "slightly" from time-to-time because radon actually fluctuates from hour- to-hour and day-to-day depending on the "source" it orginates from.
A reasonable course of action when you "self test" would be to conduct a short term test of around 3 days to get a general idea of what levels exist in your home. If high, the EPA recommends following it up with another test (in the same place and with the same test duration). The results for the two tests should be "averaged" to help assess whether mitigation is necessary. Remember that the EPA recommends "fixing" a home if it comes back at 4 picocuries or above. However, they ALSO state if the levels come back between 2 and 4 to "consider" doing something to lower it. This is because there is NO "safe level" of radon! There is an associated risk with every level! (Just as the level of risk increases the more cigarettes that someone smokes!). BEFORE you test, you need to decide what an acceptable level is!
An another testing option after your first test (if the comes back slightly high) would be conduct a "long term test" using an "Alpha Track Detector" These devices, (usually avaialble from radon contractors) are not as subject to the "peaks and valleys" you frequently see on short term tests and are a more "accurate picture" of the conditions you live in year round. Remember, the longer the test (up to a year) the more "accurate" it will be!
Are there test procedures for conducting a test?
The EPA has developed testing protocols which provide a standardization of procedures in conducting radon tests. Knowledge of these protocols is critical to ensure that valid tests have been obtained.
The EPA says you should have at least 12 hours of 'closed house conditions" (brief entries and exits) PRIOR to deploying the test devices.
The test devices need to remain in place for a minimum of 48 hours.
If you wish to do your own testing, contact us for more information and for "special kit pricing".
My Neighbor tested his house and it came back very low! Should I test mine as well?
Absolutely! Every house (and the building envelope associated with it) is different. Problems with radon can be found in new houses, old houses, houses on a slab foundation, houses on a crawl space and houses that have a combination of BOTH! They can be large houses or small houses. Expensive houses as well as modest homes. You can have several houses on the SAME STREET that have radon problems while others on that street do NOT! The ONLY way to be safe about YOUR house is to get it tested! No one else will do it but you! Note: Some family practice offices are now recommending that you get your homes tested ESPECIALLY if you have "small children" whose immune systems aren't as developed as adults
It ended up "raining hard' during our radon test, could this have adversely affected our results?
Maybe! Certified professionals know NOT to conduct radon testing during inclement weather or during high winds. Usually its best to look at the weather report BEFORE you do a test and then only do them under test conditions that would not be subject to the influence of bad weather or winds.
My real estate agent said she hadnt seen many problems with radon in my area? Should I get the home I am considering purchasing tested?
That depends on how much liability you want to assume! If you don't test your prospective home before you buy you'll be the one paying to fix it if problems are later found! If you buy and then live in your house for (x) years and later discover that you had a problem there is nothing you can do about the level of exposure you already have. Testing for radon is prudent steps that you take for the"prevention of lung cancer" in the same way that a woman getting a mammogram is geared at "early detection". Smoking induced lung cancer only affects smokers and those around them (2nd hand smoke). Exposure to radon gas can affect people at any age whether you smoke or not! But it can be 5-10 times WORSE if you smoke and have a radon problem! Thats why the Surgeon General has recommended that ALL homeowners get their home tested for radon!
What if some of the radon samples taken during a continuous monitor test were "above" 4 picocuries?
What you need to be concerned about is the overall "average" of a test! Radon fluctuates hour-by-hour, day-by-day, week-by-week, and month-by-month (and is ALSO affected by the season the test is done in). The test you did "two weeks ago" will vary slightly from the one you just received and ALL of the individual "hourly data samples" on them will be slightly different too! Its like having a basketball player make 90 out of a 100 free throws in a season. That is a VERY "high" completion percentage! So a coach wouldnt get upset about his/her missing the "10 shots" (even if some of them were done in succession!). It is the "season average" that would determine how "proficient" that player was shooting free throws! And the MORE free throws they take and MAKE....the "less significant" the individual "misses" become. Radon test results are much the same. The more tests you do (and are "averaged) and/or the LONGER time period a test runs for, the more "accurate" and a truly representative picture you will have of what the "yearly average" for the home is! THAT is what you should be "most concerned" about because that is what you "live in" year round and its WHY the EPA states that a "long term test" is the best indicator of your true health risks in a home (prerabably done over "two" heating/cooling seasons!). Unfortunately, the majority of real estate transactions operate on a "short time fuse" and the results of radon tests obtained must be used by buyers to make health and financial decisions. That is why its "critical" to use "certified professionals" to conduct your test because if the individual performing the test dont know all the applicable EPA testing protocols it "could" affect the results of your test! (Ask for documentation of their certification!).
Prudent homeowners (who eventualy become "homesellers) could better prepare for this by conducting their own "long term" tests BEFORE their house goes on the market! Besides, they would "want to know" IF "they" have a problem (with the option of correcting it for THEIR benefit) instead of having to find out about it when their house sells!
Should my child's school be tested for radon?
Absolutely! It doesnt take a "rocket scientist" to understand that radon is not "intelligent" and can come up in any structure built over it! There is NO difference between 8 hours of exposure to elevated levels of radon in a home and 8 hours of exposure (at the same level) in a school (or business). Where you get your exposure doesnt matter! That's why you should inquire if your child's school room has been teste?. Make SURE that the tests (and the results obtained) were performed by certified professionals. (ask for copies!). Furthermore, school districts frequently purchase large quantities of kits to use at their schools and then let "maintenance personnel" deploy and pick them up! How crazy is THAT? What degree of confidence can you put in test results done in this manner?
My child is attending school in a newly built school building. Is there a need to have radon testing done at the school?
"Passive radon piping" can be installed at the time of construction that will help make "fixing a radon problem" EASIER if elevated levels are later found. However, "radon resistant construction" procedures are NOT part of the "building code" in most commercial (or educational facilities) (unless specifically requested). Even if they are, the schools should still be tested to assess potential radon problems. Most school systems do NOT get their school building tested AFTER construction. But maybe your child's school "got lucky"?
I live in an apartment, should my landlord get my apartment tested for radon?
Every tenant has a "right" to safe living conditions. The only way to know if a building is "radon safe" is to get it tested. Testing generally only needs to be conducted on the "ground floor unit". Many landlords are somewhat "resistant" to "spending the money" to get their units tested because they fear they might have a problem they will have to spend "more money" to fix! You can't FORCE a landlord to test the unit you are living in! But you could PAY for an inexpensive test kit (from Lowe's) and do the test yourself! If your test comes back "high" and the landlord refuses to take action to lower the radon to safe levels you might have to find another apartment complex that has your best interest at heart (and not just "money"!).